Sonny Simmons Trio - Live at Knitting Factory

Julien Palomo,

Sonny Simmons + Ayler Records. The equation rings a bell. As far as free-jazz is concerned, most of Jan Ström's releases will remain as uncompromising statements. This one is a most uncompromising statement...

Wait a minute. Another live record? True. The past fifteen years have seen (so) many of them. Why is this one so special? Well, Live at Knitting Factory brings back to life a truly undocumented aspect of Sonny Simmons, the outstanding performer: his trio settings. Obviously. If you ever had the chance to catch him live, that was most probably with a trio. The formula was preserved in the studio on Ancient Ritual. Period. Arhoolie's Live - In Paris was too exceptional an occasion (the fuss surrounding his come-back), and the record is marred by sometimes indifferent sound. Ever since then, Sonny has led myriads of sax+bass+drums groups, an easy to deal with presentation that perfectly suits his playing.

At last we get a testimony of his command of this difficult artform. Live at Knitting Factory is plainly and simply how Sonny Simmons sounds like, caught live. It's typical. Back in 2001, he was more and more seeking abruptness, conciseness (his pairing with Michael Marcus in the Cosmosamatics, much better documented, almost aims at the opposite direction: developping one single idea, chewing it, until it reaches a stage of completion), through (sometimes deceivingly) short sets featuring no more than two themes. Here we get two of his all-time classics, so to say: Trumpet Ship and Reverend Church (a slightly different take at Ancient Ritual). The basic, constitutive features of his vision are here: constant groove, entertainment (humorous rap), clarity. If only for these aesthetical reasons... get that nuclear bomb!