Sonny Simmons, master saxophonist

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B. Soundtrack

 

97.12.12

SONNY SIMMONS/GILBERT SIGRIST

Sonny Simmons and Gilbert Sigrist : soundtrack for François Lunel's Jours Tranquilles A Sarajevo     François Lunel : Jours Tranquilles A Sarajevo

December 12, 1997 **
Studios de la Seine, Paris, France

1. Too Late For Tears (Sonny Simmons) [3:40]
2. Improvisation (Gilbert Sigrist) [4:50]
3. Variations on Too Late For Tears (Sonny Simmons/Gilbert Sigrist) [5:10]
4. Aborigine Dance In Scotland (Sonny Simmons) [8:45]

Sonny Simmons : tenor saxophone
Gilbert Sigrist: piano

film director : François Lunel
film producer : Samuel Chauvain

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C. Documentary films on Sonny Simmons

 

late 80’s – early 90’s

<director?>

According to Marc Chaloin, this documentary film shows Sonny Simmons before the times of his Ancient Ritual « come-back », playing in the Golden Gate Park (along with fellow saxophonist George Long) and talking about his life. The unknown director is reported to have worked in Peter Jackson’s sound crew for the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and to have won an Academy Award for it in 2003 : is it Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Hammond Peek or Michael Semanick ?

 

97.00.00

AL DOUGLAS

Alan Douglas, dir. : The Sonny Simmons Workshop

After working on Saxophone Legacy (see above, section A., 97.00.00), Al Douglas launched a second project, « a saxophone teaching programme — The Sonny Simmons Saxophone Workshop, which, owing to a lack of investment/distributor, has never been finished » (Al Douglas in e-mail). Trailer is still available at www.bug-less.net/latv/trailers.htm, Al Douglas’ website. [runtime 6 minutes]

 

99-00.00.00

BOB BREWSTER

On September 11, 2004, a documentary film by Bob Brewster – who followed Sonny Simmons’ return in the USA in 1999-2001 (info courtesy of MC) – was screened at the Creative Jazz Alliance in Baltimore prior to a Sonny Simmons date*. Shooting took place in Oakland, in San Francisco, and during a specially appointed trip to Louisiana (Sicily Island notably). It also features musical sketches from a June 20, 1999 performance of the Bob Braye trio (Bob Braye, drums, Chuck Metcalf, bass, and guest Oluyemi Thomas on bass clarinet) in Oakland. [runtime 100 minutes approximately]

 

01-02.00.00

BRANDON EVANS

Brandon Evans, dir. : The Multiple Rated-X Truth

« This film, shot and edited by Brandon Evans, has been in the making for ten months and is now completed. A film on the life of the great American Master Sonny Simmons, born August,1933. Featuring extended interviews with Simmons himself, Anthony Braxton, & Juni Booth, plus great rare footage of Sonny Simmons playing alto saxophone and english horn in studio sessions and private rehearsals. True to its subject, 'multiple rated-X truth' chronicles in his own words the life of the legendary Sonny Simmons from his childhood in Louisiana to his years in San Francisco in the 80's. There are many extended anecdotes of the recording sessions with Eric Dolphy, his meetings with John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Prince Lasha, and many other musicians and historical figures of American culture, including the late champion boxer, Archie Moore. An intense, inspiring story of a great American musician maturing amidst the backdrop of turbulent social and political change in the 60's until now. » (Original www.parallactic.com add.)

« Directed by local sax hero, composer and Braxton collaborator – Brandon Evans, this historic film runs 105 minutes and comes in a limited edition of 100. […] Limited edition of 100 DVD-R copies. » (Original Downtown Music Gallery add.)

 

02-04.00.00

FRANÇOIS LUNEL

On December 3, 2004, a documentary film by François Lunel – director of Jours Tranquilles à Sarajevo – was screened at l’Archipel jazz club in Paris prior to a Cosmosamatics date*. Shooting includes excerpts from the Jazz en Live à La Comedia concerts series (02.11.29). [runtime 40 minutes approximately]

On November 24, 2005, the definitive version was screened at La SCAM in Paris. [51:24]

 

Others :

A friend of Brandon Evans, Joe McCune documented Sonny Simmons in the early 90’s. He is reputed to have filmed most of Sonny Simmons’ engagements at Espace and other venues in San Francisco, ca. 1993-1994. For instance, Live In S.F. 1993 (see section A., 93.05.00) is actually the audio track of one of his video works. (Info courtesy of MC.)

A few months ago, Tom Priemon (www.photonality.com) advertised for a work built around a Sonny Simmons-Michael Marcus concert at the Tritone in Philadelphia.

We won't forget to mention Janet Janke. For four years she has been documenting Sonny Simmons' life and music as often as possible. She hopes to launch www.sonnysimmons.com in the near future, a website entirely devoted to a vast video documentary project. Keep posted !

 

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We acknowledge that most of the following sections wouldn’t exist without Marc Chaloin’s extensive research, of which it is only a snippet. This section is (by essence) far to be complete, other material exists and may be listed here in the future.

Unvaluable thanks also to Bert Wilson, jazz legend, and his wife Nancy Curtis, for unveiling an unprecedented episode in the history of contemporary jazz.

May we precise that some entries, as it is the case with such listings of bootlegged and unreleased material, may be pure fancies…

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D. Unissued ; bootlegs ; and wonders

 

63.05.00

SONNY ROLLINS

May 1963
RCA studios, NYC, USA

Following a concert at the Village Gate on April 22, 1963 (with Henry Grimes on bass and Charles Moffett on drums, and with/or without Prince Lasha), Sonny Simmons remembers entering RCA studios for a George Avakian-produced session. It was cut short after a few takes. Although no tape surfaced in RCA’s archives, Coda mentions it twice : « Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons have formed their own quintet in New York which includes Richard Davis. […] Prince Lasha has also been working with Sonny Rollins and both he and Simmons are on an up-coming album of Rollins’, which also has Don Cherry and Billy Higgins [Roy McCurdy according to Simmons] in the band » (June 1963, p. 17). « A new album, in the company of Sonny Rollins, may help to get them better known. If things don’t pick up they’ll head back to Los Angeles » (August 1963, p. 12).

 

68.00.00

BILL DIXON

1968
University of the Streets, NYC, USA

1. Large Orchestra Piece 1 (Bill Dixon) [29:00]
2. V + VI (Bill Dixon) [17:50]
3. XP (Bill Dixon) [18:00]
4. XY (Bill Dixon) [17:20]

Bill Dixon : trumpet, leader
Leo Jones : trumpet
Jacques Coursil : trumpet
Clifford Thornton : cornet
Richard Dunbar : french horn
Sam Burtis : trombone
Wesley Whittaker : trombone
John Buckingham : tuba)
Dave Chamberlain : flute, soprano saxophone
Marzette Watts : bass clarinet
Sonny Simmons : English horn
Monty Waters : bass-natural soprano saxophone
Leopanar Witlarge : alto saxophone
Sam Rivers : soprano sax and tenor saxophones
Arthur Doyle : tenor saxophone
Sonny Clark : baritone saxophone
Warren Chiasson : vibes
Susan Elrauch : mezzo-soprano voice

 

70.00.00

BERT WILSON

1970
Bert Wilson’s house, Berkeley, USA

(titles unknown)

Bert Wilson : tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
Barbara Donald : trumpet
David Kempton : RMI electric keyboard
Kenny Jenkins : bass
James Zitro : drums

 

70.00.00

JAMES ZITRO

1970
Bert Wilson’s house, Berkeley, USA

(titles unknown)

Bert Wilson : tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
Bobby Addison : guitar
David Kempton : RMI electric keyboard
Dennis Parker : bass guitar
James Zitro : drums

 

70.06.19

BERT WILSON

June 19, 1970
Berkeley, USA

1. The Age Of The Mutants (Bert Wilson/Sonny Simmons/Richard Birch/James Zitro) [43:20]
2. Cosmic Exchanges And Universal Hearing (Bert Wilson/Sonny Simmons/Richard Birch/James Zitro) [34:20]

Bert Wilson : alto saxophone (#1), tenor saxophone (#2)
Sonny Simmons : tenor saxophone (#1), alto saxophone (#2), bass clarinet (#2)
Richard Birch : bamboo flute
James Zitro : drums

 

70.07.23

BERT WILSON

July 23, 1970
Bert Wilson’s home, Berkeley, USA

1. (untitled) (Bert Wilson/Sonny Simmons/James Zitro)

Bert Wilson : tenor saxophone
Sonny Simmons : tenor saxophone
James Zitro : drums

 

70-71(?).12.17

BERT WILSON

December 17, 1970 or 1971
Bert Wilson’s house, Berkeley, USA

(titles unknown) [60:00 approximately]

Bert Wilson : tenor saxophone
Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
John Gross (?) : tenor saxophone
Barbara Donald : trumpet
unknown (Gary Barone ?) : trumpet
James Zitro : percussion

 

71.11.28

BERT WILSON

November 28, 1971
Bert Wilson’s home, Berkeley, USA

1. Fire And Beauty From A (Bert Wilson/Sonny Simmons/John Mewborn/John Neumann/Smiley Winters) [40:35]

Bert Wilson : alto and tenor saxophones
Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
John Mewborn : cornet
John Neumann : bass
William “Smiley” Winters : drums, percussion

 

72.00.00

BERT WILSON

Early 1972
Bert Wilson’s house, Berkeley, USA

(titles unknown)

Bert Wilson : tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
Barbara Donald : trumpet
Bobby Addison : guitar
Bob Natanson : drums

 

74.00.00

BERT WILSON

1974
Bert Wilson’s house, Topanga Canyon, USA

1. Tres Cherbeaux (Bert Wilson)
2. Reunion In Space (Bert Wilson/Sonny Simmons/Barbara Donald/David Crane/Don Felix/Derek Driezen)
3. Ancient Ritual (Sonny Simmons)

Bert Wilson : alto and tenor saxophones
Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
Barbara Donald : trumpet
Marty Krystal : tenor saxophone, bass clarinet (#3)
David Crane : piano
Don Felix : bass
Derek Driezen : percussion

 

74.04.30

BERT WILSON

March 30, 1974
Bert Wilson’s house, Topanga Canyon, USA

(titles unknown) [60:00 approximately]

Bert Wilson : soprano saxophone, bass clarinet
Sonny Simmons : tenor saxophone
Barbara Donald : trumpet
Kent Brinkley : bass
Reggie Golson : drums

 

80.07.08

BIG BLACK/SONNY SIMMONS

July 8, 1980
Live at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz, CA, USA

1. (congo solo) (unknown)
2. On April
3. Therapy For Paranoia
4. Black's *
5. Title Black
6. Titled Mess **
7. Clarde
8. Big Black's Dream

Sonny Simmons : alto saxophone
Big Black : congas
unknown (Richard Clements?) : piano
unknown (Freddie Williams?) : bass

 

81.00.00

HI TIDE HARRIS

In 1981 Sonny Simmons took part to a recording session under the leadership of Oakland guitarist and blues singer Hi Tide Harris. The group also featured Eddie Henderson (trumpet), “Bishop” Norman Williams and Michael Marcus (saxes) – allegedly Simmons’ first meeting with his future Cosmosamatics cohort. Hi Tide Harris was dissatisfied with the results and it was never published.

 

88.00.00

SONNY SIMMONS

1988 (?)
<location ?>, San Francisco, USA

For discussion on this session see section A., 88.00.00.

 

93(?).00.00

SONNY SIMMONS

Probably 1993
<location ?>

Unissued recording session featuring Sonny Simmons and quartet (Bob Braye, drums; Herbie Lewis, bass; unknown pianist) playing standards (including White Christmas) and produced by Craig Morton.

 

98.12.00

SONNY SIMMONS/GILBERT SIGRIST

December 1998

Outtakes from the Jours Tranquilles à Sarajevo soundtrack (see section B., 98.12.00), to be possibly issued by Sonny Simmons himself.

Sonny Simmons : tenor saxophone
Gilbert Sigrist: piano

 

99.05.00

NEW MILLENIUM SAXOPHONE ORCHESTRA

May 1999 (?)
New York, USA

Unissued recording session featuring Sonny Simmons, Michael Marcus, Oliver Lake, Frank Lowe and John Stubblefield on saxes.

 

00.02.00

SONNY SIMMONS

February 2000 (?)

Unissued recording session featuring the Sonny Simmons quartet plus guests Michael White (violin) and Matt Goff (didjeridoo). Produced by Craig Morton.

The liner notes for the Manhattan Egos CD reissue (2000) advertise these new recordings of the Sonny Simmons-Michael White pair.

 

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A work in progress, © Julien Palomo, April 2009