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Sonny Simmons: American Jungle

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Despite the LP time length taken up by but five tracks, this is another rewarding date from someone who has been long overdue for recording opportunities. That this is his second Qwest date in just under three years is astounding, considering the time Simmons spent in enforced obscurity. He is joined here by a peculiar and disparate cast: Reggie Workman on bass, Cindy Blackman on drums, and Travis Shook on piano; a quartet date this time, as Simmons goes with the chordal safety net of the piano, though he affords Shook little to no time in the spotlight.

Opening with “Land Of The Freaks”-a controlled freak-out if freaky at all-Simmons bursts in with relentless force, though not without considerable taste and navigational direction. There’s a sense of desperation, doubtless born of his recent lean times, that informs Simmons’ alto sax. He doesn’t so much as hurtle headlong through these tunes, as take them with such a determined edge as to leave one often dangling on the precipice. A bluesy, all-too short (2:46)-the dread engineer’s fade-out-homage to Trane, “Coltrane Story,” brings the blues to clear focus.