Tuesday, May 30, 2006

simmons, coltrane etc.

kevin asks:

> Can someone listen to the first track of Sonny Simmons' Burning
> Spear and tell me what Mingus tune he is deconstructing?

is there a specific moment in the track? cuz i've got it going here now and can't hear no mingus, but you know the mingus better than me. what i do hear in simmons' initial statements over the ensemble (0:37-0:38) is a two-note descending figure at an interval of (i think) a fifth that's very very close to the opening of coltrane's "father son and holy ghost" (from MEDITATIONS), occurring six times from 0:37 to 1:04. plus simmons' embellishments of that motif (0:47-0:49, 0:59-1:04) strike me as being very coltranesque figures. then the very first statement in his solo proper (1:25-1:25), which is also the song's opening theme, sounds like a little nod at "a love supreme" or perhaps even "sun ship." it makes sense too that since simmons is, i believe, playing tenor on this track, he would make some coltrane references.

clifford jarvis is such a great under-recognized drummer (as evidenced by john gilmore, a consequence of spending your career with sun ra). he offers that same churning, bubbling drive that he contributes to the sun ra recodings he's on. (and dig it: that's him on jackie mclean's RIGHT NOW as well!)

and talk about how trumpeters always get overlooked -- how great is barbara donald? what a bright, near blistering tone. violinist michael white reminds me of billy bang a bit here, far less frenetic than his aylerian namesake michael sampson. (the clarity of this recording relative to some of those live aylers.) i feel like i know the two bass players here, cecil mcbee and richard davis, pretty well but am at a loss to distinguish them here (even tho the liner notes indicate who's in what channel).

this is a great performance, thanks for reminding me of it.



Kevin said...
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Kevin said...

Several mistakes on my part. The Simmons' cd is "Burning Spirits" and the deconstructed melody I hear in the first 30 seconds of track one is not a Mingus tune but rather a signature Roland Kirk (pre-Rahsaan) tune from "Domino" called "A Stritch in Time". After listening carefully, I'm fairly confident that the likelihood that Simmons is "quoting" the Kirk tune is quite remote. It's all in my head.