4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Sonny Simmons's Staying on the Watch

At 5:19 into the first cut, Simmons’s alto and Barbara Donald's trumpet hit a huge skidding smear — a show-off driver on a slick road, hopped up maybe, hits the brake and the gas at once, giving him/her/self to providence, should such reach down. And "Metamorphosis" swirls away into a bowed-bass solo from Teddy Smith. Crisis averted. Or maybe the whole shebang rolled over politely into a modest ditch.

I'd never heard Simmons with his then-partner Donald before. Maybe it's youth, maybe it's freshness less related to youth, but she lifts him and he lifts her, and Teddy Smith and pianist John Hicks and drummer Marvin Pattillo contribute to a systematic study in how you can go up to the line, step on the line, press on the line until it starts to hurt, then back up to safety's edge, jump off the boxcar before it picks up freeway speed on its way to Shreveport.

Smith's bass solos always sound like a true, wise friend giving you the best advice. And "A Distant Voice," a duet between Simmons and Smith, points up the Egyptian sonorities the saxophonist would squeeze even harder on subsequent records (to the point of taking up the English horn for its exotic, nasal quality). Hicks bubbles. The sadly obscure Pattillo knows when to knock on doors and when to knock down walls. Noisy but not the noisiest, and rewarding in its depth, here's free jazz for inspired palettes.

  • Album: Staying on the Watch (1966; reissued 2010)
  • Artist: Sonny Simmons
  • Label: ESP-Disk
  • Songs: (1) Metamorphosis (2) A Distant Voice (3) City of David (4) Interplanetary Travelers
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Symphony silent on reasons for renovation

At 5:19 into the first cut, Simmons’s alto and Barbara Donald's trumpet hit a huge skidding smear — a show-off driver on a slick road, hopped up maybe, hits the brake and the gas at once, giving him/her/self to providence, should such reach down. And "Metamorphosis" swirls away into a bowed-bass solo from Teddy Smith. Crisis averted. Or maybe the whole shebang rolled over politely into a modest ditch.

I'd never heard Simmons with his then-partner Donald before. Maybe it's youth, maybe it's freshness less related to youth, but she lifts him and he lifts her, and Teddy Smith and pianist John Hicks and drummer Marvin Pattillo contribute to a systematic study in how you can go up to the line, step on the line, press on the line until it starts to hurt, then back up to safety's edge, jump off the boxcar before it picks up freeway speed on its way to Shreveport.

Smith's bass solos always sound like a true, wise friend giving you the best advice. And "A Distant Voice," a duet between Simmons and Smith, points up the Egyptian sonorities the saxophonist would squeeze even harder on subsequent records (to the point of taking up the English horn for its exotic, nasal quality). Hicks bubbles. The sadly obscure Pattillo knows when to knock on doors and when to knock down walls. Noisy but not the noisiest, and rewarding in its depth, here's free jazz for inspired palettes.

  • Album: Staying on the Watch (1966; reissued 2010)
  • Artist: Sonny Simmons
  • Label: ESP-Disk
  • Songs: (1) Metamorphosis (2) A Distant Voice (3) City of David (4) Interplanetary Travelers
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Surf fishing Baja’s Pacific coast

'Tis the season for local trout and long range trips
Next Article

The revolving door of El Cajon Blvd.

Uber-Lyft car rentals gone; 44 Ollie North lofts looming
Comments
2

Well-expressed! Never heard of 'em, but then you & my pal Rex Butters are much further into the free jazz channel than I, who still gets excited by hard bop. Trains rock.

Dec. 11, 2010

Amazingly well written, Hamlin. That plus the fact that it's 1966-vintage ESP free jazz makes me want to hear this record.

Dec. 11, 2010

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close