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Staying On The Watch

by Sonny Simmons

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Dan Leithauser
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Dan Leithauser FX Legion led me to Sonny Simmons with end music for S1-E4! Great stuff. Favorite track: Metamorphosis.
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The noted West Coast composer makes his ESP debut accompanied by his then wife, Barbara Donald, on trumpet, Teddy Smith on bass, John Hicks on piano, and Marvin Pattillo on percussion. Recorded in August 1966, Staying on the Watch is an important infusion of straight-ahead and avant jazz. Barbara Donald is a superb trumpeter who has made a stern contribution to the legacy of women performers and has been widely written about. Also, pianist John Hicks, who makes his New York debut on the record, went on to become one of the most prolific pianists in jazz.


released August 30, 1966


Barbara Donald: trumpet
Sonny Simmons: alto sax
John Hicks: piano
Teddy Smith: bass
Marvin Pattillo: percussion

Press Quotes:

“Altoist Sonny Simmons' debut as a leader is a typically stimulating and dense ESP blowout. Performing in a quintet with trumpeter Barbara Donald, the up-and-coming pianist John Hicks, bassist Teddy Smith and drummer Marvin Pattillo, Simmons stretches out on four colorful and mostly free-form originals. The intense set still sounds quite advanced over three decades later.” – Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)

“Always a volatile personality, Simmons cut his music in the late 60s with a finely honed edge. On ‘A Distant Voice’ he pushes his alto into English horn territory (which Simmons would later regularly employ). Then-wife Barbara Donald on trumpet is key to the band’s forceful sound. Staying on the Watch marks the debut of pianist John Hicks, who brings ‘City of David’ to a rousing finish. – Jeff Stockton (All About Jazz)



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