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RIP Sonny Simmons

Avant-garde alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons, known for his ESP-Disk albums and work with Eric Dolphy, has died at the age of 87. I only managed to hear Simmons the one time back in 2004 circa the release of Reeds & Birds at a festival in Finland …

Published: 10 Apr 2021. Updated: 27 days.

Avant-garde alto saxophonist Sonny Simmons, known for his ESP-Disk albums and work with Eric Dolphy, has died at the age of 87. I only managed to hear Simmons the one time back in 2004 circa the release of Reeds & Birds at a festival in Finland called the Tampere Jazz Happening at which he was appearing, pictured above in an official festival photo, in the Cosmosamatics. What I remember most about that time was the way Simmons played in his highly individual style the extraordinary-sounding English horn. SG Listen to a selection drawn from Simmons' work and read a Libération tribute.

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Sizzling Billboard chart success this week for a slice of Tower of Power

Hilarious usually to look at the top of the Billboard jazz chart given that Ultimate Sinatra has been no. 1 for a mere 82 weeks. You can't get more relevant than that, huh? New this week is more of a lift and the presence at no 3 of a Californian …

Published: 10 Apr 2021. Updated: 27 days.

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Hilarious usually to look at the top of the Billboard jazz chart given that Ultimate Sinatra has been no. 1 for a mere 82 weeks. You can't get more relevant than that, huh? New this week is more of a lift and the presence at no 3 of a Californian institution and their record Tower of Power: 50 Years of Funk & Soul: Live at the Fox Theater a record of a 2018 hometown Oakland show. Pick of the record is the formidable 'What is Hip/Soul Power'. I've only heard Tower of Power the one time at a sold out KOKO in 2012. (On the KOKO front Nick Lewis, who used to do a sterling job under former boss Simon Cooke at Ronnie Scott's, is now working at the Mornington Crescent venue as head of music ahead of its reopening next year.) Thinking back to that night the place was packed and Camden had come out in force with sold out notices on the door, and by the beginning of the support band's slot who I had come to review you would have needed sharp elbows to have got anywhere near the front such was the early turn-out on a warm night that felt like New York in late-May. That's the kind of buzz lolling at the back listening to the PA that we have been missing for over a year the thrill that is going out to hear music live being part of something human and significant among strangers as you are to them they are like you.

Also check out 'What Is Hip' from Tower of Power (Warner Bros, 1973) and look too in the top 10 of the US chart the hugely credible Promises is new at 9. Promises is that rarity, an album that has picked up loads of 5-star reviews and is shifting a few as well. Link: to the Billboard chart, week of 10 April.