California's alto saxophonist
was emblematic (although a relative rarity) of how the
free-jazz improviser could wed the sophisticated composer.
Stayin' On The Watch (august 1966) and Music From The Spheres (december 1966), each containing the four lengthy jams for quintets with trumpeter (and wife) Barbara Donald,
were sometimes reminiscent of John Coltrane but also inherently more complex,
if a bit less emotional.
Expanded Universe (september 1971) featured
Bert Wilson on tenor sax, trumpetist
Barbara Donald, guitarist Bobby Addison, bassist John Neuman, and
drummers Smiley Winters and Bobby Natanson performing
three lengthy pieces, notably the 38-minute title-track.
He remained a brilliant composer even after he started playing less confrontational music, such as on
Backwoods Suite (january 1982), with Donald replaced by a three-piece horn section,
Global Jungle (october 1982), in a quartet with cello,
Ancient Ritual (december 1992), in a trio.
After a long hiatus,
formed Cosmosamatics in 2000
that debuted with Cosmosamatics (february 2001), followed by
II (august 2001),
Third (march 2003),
Magnitudes (march 2003),
Reeds & Birds (september 2004),
Free Within The Law (december 2006),
with varying line-ups (the only constant being fellow saxophonist Michael Marcus).
Simmons also recorded
Tales Of The Ancient East (january 2001) with
Brandon Evans on flute, shenai, harmonium, bass, sopranino and contra-alto clarinet, Brian Glick on bass clarinet and Rosie Shakarian on synthesiser,
an ambitious Live At Rive De Gier (october 2001),
and an even more ambitious
Solo Out Into The Andromeda (january 2003).
Another quintet, Renegade Society, debuted with New York 2002 (august 2002)
featured Brandon Evans (bass clarinet tenor and c-soprano saxes) and
Andrew Vida (tenor sax).
The Renegade Society was pared down to
a quartet with only Brandon Evans on tenor sax) for
Live At CBGB Underground (july 2003) and
Volume 2 (september 2003).
Perfekte Leere (july 2001) was a trio with pianist Tchangodei and drummer Sunny Murray.
Simmons also played in the quintet of Mixolydis (july 2001),
Duo 2002 (april 2002) was an all-sax collaboration with Brandon Evans.
A piano quartet recorded Last Man Standing (march 2005).
The Traveller (december 2004),
I'll See You When You Get There (january 2005) and
Live At Zebulon (july 2005)
were performed by large ensembles.
Simmons' first foray in computer music was
The Future Is Ancient (march 2004) with Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut on
guitar, amplifier, indian chimes, and computer editing.
The six-part Suite For Simmons (august 2005) was composed by pianist Svein Olav Herstad.
The eight-movement Atomic Symphony (premiered in august 2007) was composed by baritone saxophonist Vidar Johansen.
The five-movement Symphony Of The Peacocks (may 2010) is actually a chamber piece.
A True Life Drama (december 2005) collected duets with tenorist Jean-Philippe Ramos.
Other solo albums were Ecstatic Nostalgia and Fourth Dimension.
No matter what the setting was, Simmons always managed to carve out a unique
place in the history of jazz improvisation and composition.
The eight-disc box-set Leaving Knowledge, Wisdom And Brilliance//Chasing The Bird? (recorded between june 2006 and january 2014)
delivered two colossal compositions, each of them taking 4 discs.
Leaving Knowledge, Wisdom And Brilliance features
Gregoire (percussion and vocals), Michel Kristof (esra, sintir,
sitar and percussion) and Julien Palomo (synthesizer, piano,
harmonium, organ, percussion, strings and vocals).
Chasing The Bird? features
Philippe "Nobodisoundz" Neau on electronics.
The first disc of the double-disc No Title: Jazz & Poetry On The Occasion Of The Clyfford Museum features the 25th Century Orchestra. (Grachan Moncur III on trombone, Michael Marcus on bass & B-flat clarinets, Dave Burrell on piano, Thomas Bellier on guitar, William Parker on bass, etc) and three poets.
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