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April 2002

The Cosmosamatics
The Cosmosamatics
Boxholder Records

Ever the firebird, Sonny Simmons lights up what might have been just another good album of what used to be called loft jazz. Though he is approaching 70, Simmons' alto saxophone still has the brawny cry that made his '60s albums on ESP and Arhoolie minor classics. The same can be said of his writing. Additionally, his English horn has become more piquant. Within the context of the Cosmosamatics-a co-op quartet with straight saxophone specialist Michael Marcus, ubiquitous bassist William Parker and drummer Jay Rosen-Simmons also has the opportunity to mingle and banter with a compatible front-line partner, much in the manner of his vintage work with Prince Lasha and Barbara Donald.

Still, The Cosmosamatics is more than an update on Simmons; it's also a chance to hear three frequently recorded improvisers in top form, digging into sturdy, if occasionally rough-hewn tunes that are more than adequate for launching engaging solos. The album additionally benefits from the contributions of guest artists James Carter, who adds blustery bass saxophone to two rhythmically charged tracks, and both bassoonist Karen Borca and tabla player Samir Chatterjee on Simmon's Middle Eastern-tinged English horn vehicle. Subsequently, the album holds up better than the sketchily arranged dates currently adding to the relative flood of like-minded recordings.

Originally published in April 2002
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