Sonny Simmons, master saxophonist

Hello World ! the Sonny Simmons homepage : the complete and authorized ressource on the jazz saxophonist, including a full discography and biography, information about new recordings, concert schedule

HOME : Homepage
C'EST LA VIE... : Resume and Biography
TALES OF THE ANCIENT EAST : Discography and Sessionography
JEWELS : Archives (pictures, documents, downloads...)


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Presentation : I'm a 25th century prophet

"I'm bringing a message". The scene : a small hotel room near Barbès (Paris, France).

Name a man who's been playing with Cindy Blackman, Joe Bonner, Anthony Braxton, James Carter, Denis Charles, Don Cherry, Earl Cross, Andrew Cyrille, Richard Davis, Barbara Donald, Eric Dolphy,...

... Ray Drummond, Earl Freeman, Jimmy Garrison, Eddie Henderson, John Hicks, Billy Higgins, Bobby Hutcherson, Elvin Jones, Clifford Jordan, Ed Kelly, Oliver Lake, Prince Lasha, Art Lewis, Frank Lowe, Cecil McBee, Michael Marcus, Charles and Charnett Moffett, Grachan Moncur, Sunny Murray, Gary Peacock, Dewey Redman, Sonny Rollins, Woody Shaw, Lonnie Liston Smith, Juma Sultan, Horace Tapscott, McCoy Tyner, Michael White, Bert Wilson, Smiley Winters, Reggie Workman, James Zitro ? SONNY SIMMONS !

The disciple of Charlie Parker. The heir of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. The partner of Eric Dolphy. Sonny Simmons stands tall.

That's what he says. Ahead of his time. Of every time. 25th century. Free jazz ? Avant-garde ? One misses the point. He nods his head in disapproval. He's beyond that - "free jazz", "avant-garde". First thing - it's a vocation. Not a musical style. He couldn't have done anything else, but "play the horn". And embrace an extreme lifestyle. Poète maudit.

It's a mission, too. A spiritual one. His father was baptist preacher and a voodoo priest. He recognizes Albert Ayler both as a master, and a brother. "Music is the healing force of the universe." He's a healer. His playing has a soothing quality akin to that of John Coltrane. Once again, it's beyond notes, chords, improvisation, free or not. Voodoo, eastern philosophy, the Church, the blues - he's a synthesis, his music, a succesful syncretism. "Prophet." Performing an Ancient Ritual. Telling the Tales of the Ancient East.

What else do we learn from such an impressive list ? He's firmly rooted in a tradition. He's a disciple of Charlie Parker. Not only a master saxophonist : it's all about excitement. Inspiration. Bandstand hero, dressed in black. Soft lights through the cloudy cigarettes, glasses ringing in the midst of the bass solo. Elegiac (Dolphy, again). The good side of the legacy. The dark (and necessary) side, too : urban roots, bad guy, competition, survival of the toughest in the American Jungle.

There would be many other facets to explore. A black revolutionnary. A composer. A man who's been under more than once, but never failed to resurface, drawing cohorts of faithful fans; homeless at the time he made the encyclopedias; busier than ever in the new Millenium, when the jazz world thought him out of notice.

"Be yourself" says he. "It's not about Sonny Simmons, it's not about the here and now, it's about YOU." So, why a Sonny Simmons homepage ? For all the above reasons, and more. 9 times out of 10, a man is a legend because his true self his unknown to his contemporaries. We at Hello World ! dare hope that our work will expand the knowledge of this essential and leading figure - the past, present and future of our music.

"Be yourself. Please do that."


Hello World ! the Sonny Simmons homepage : the complete and authorized ressource on the american saxophonist, including a full discography and biography, information about new recordings, concert schedule, useful links to Sonny Simmons on the net. Picture taken by Daniel Lebée.
©Daniel Lebée


Contents (site map)


News regarding Sonny Simmons recordings and gigs
Biography of Sonny Simmons
Discography of Sonny Simmons
On-line archives : pictures, downloads, printable documents pertaining to Sonny Simmons


Hello World ! is curated by a bunch of "Burnt Spirits" : Marc Chaloin, Michel Kristof, Roy Morris, Julien Palomo. Thanks to J.J., Maud and Astrid. Derek Styles for additionnal research.

All original contents, including but not limited to text and photographs, except if otherwise indicated, is Copyright Hello World ! ©2004-2017. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole, in part, or in any form without express written permission of Hello World ! is prohibited.

The name, Sonny Simmons, is used with the artist's kind permission. This is an authorized website.

The photographs used in this website are the property of their authors and are used with their kind permission. We would like to thank the family of the late Dr. Gilbert Maurisson (to whom this site is dedicated), and also Christian Boullangier and Daniel Lebée, for allowing us to use the pictures featured on Jazz-Passion.

Other images on these pages are copyrighted, cover images especially. The author acknowledges the copyrights. In most cases, the legitimate copyright holders have an interest in maintaining the popularity of the artist and his music, and will therefore not object to the use of those images. This is not a commercial web site. If any copyright holder does object, please contact the author and he shall remove the offending images.

Design, Layout and Graphics other than those mentioned above are Copyright ©2004-2012Hello World ! and cannot be used in any form or medium without written permission from Hello World !.


For informations related to Mr. Simmons' professional activities, booking and/or recordings, contact :

Mailto :

Click here for a complete presskit including biography and photos.

Site maintained by Julien Palomo. Any comments, suggestions, additions, queries, highly welcome !

Mailto :

Looking for...

... Always more Sonny Simmons-related material. Private tapes tend to get rare, sources are scattered to the extreme, unknown to us, and too many areas and eras of Mr. Simmons' artistry remain undocumented. Join and help us in the task of centralizing, archiving and preserving the music of Sonny Simmons ! The gathering of these documents is made under the control of the artist. Also any testimony of fellow musicians, producers, fans... would be greatly appreciated.


Sonny Simmons caught live at La Comedia in october 2002. Copyright Daniel Lebée
©Daniel Lebée






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