Sonny Simmons

Genres: Jazz
Decades: 1960s 1970s 1990s 2000s


Huey Simmons, 4 August 1933, Sicily Island, Louisiana, USA. Simmons’ family moved to Oakland, California, when he was eight years old. Though he was interested in music, his parents could not afford to pay for lessons for him, and it was not until 1950 that he was able to buy his own alto saxophone. A few years later he met flautist Prince Lasha and worked with him for a decade. In 1960 they appeared on television together in Sacramento, and in 1962 Simmons made his recording debut as part of Lasha’s quintet, appearing on sessions for The Cry on the west coast label Contemporary Records. Initially inspired by Charlie Parker, Simmons found that Ornette Coleman’s freedom from the chord changes ‘worked out’ for him. Following stints with Elvin Jones and Eric Dolphy Simmons married the trumpeter Barbara Donald, with the couple subsequently appearing together at numerous dates.

In 1966 he cut Staying On The Watch for ESP...

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