Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Pop
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Voice of a jazz survivor
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 05/25/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I rank Sonny Simmons among the best living jazz saxophonists. Never close to being a "household name," even in the restricted world of jazz, he has worked in unstintingly exploratory fashion since the 1960s, producing challenging records and enduring long stretches when it was difficult to bring his music to vinyl or CD. Still, during the 1990s, he enjoyed a bit of a renaissance, even landing a contract with Warner Brothers-owned Qwest, which produced this album and the very fine "Ancient Rituals."I don't rank "American Jungle" (1995) as Sonny's best album, but it's still well worth having if you appreciate hard-driving saxophone by an intelligent, passionate and committed player. It certainly features some of his most lyrical playing, as on "Black, Blue and Purple" and his take on the famous Coltrane vehicle "My Favorite Things." The sound is softened somewhat by the piano of Travis Shook and the rather restrained drumming (for a Simmons band, anyway) of Cindy Blackman. A further tribute to Trane, "Coltrane Story," finds Sonny hitting a mid-60s-sounding groove his mentor would have approved of: hard-edged, and always pushing forward, but leavened by melodicism.In fact, the slightly rounded-off sound is the only thing that tempers my appreciation of the album somewhat, although that's a matter of taste. Those who are interested in hearing a more aggressive and challenging Simmons are encouraged to check out his CIMP releases "Transcendence" and "Judgment Day" and his great '60s avant-garde flings with then-wife and trumpeter-extraordinaire Barbara Donald, "Manhattan Egos," "Stayin' on the Watch" and "Music from the Spheres." These albums display Sonny at his unbridled best, challenging the range of his instrument and truly extending the legacy of Coltrane's search for new sounds. Then again, it must be said that none of these albums are for the faint of heart or those who shy away from music that is confrontational.That said, "American Jungle" is fine modern jazz and a good introduction to Sonny's music. He is in fine form, albeit seemingly at a bit of a resting place, it seems, before striking out again for further musical shores."