Sonny Simmons

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Sonny Simmons
Sonny Simmons.jpg
Sonny Simmons
Photo: Matt Brown
Background information
Birth name Huey Simmons
Born (1933-08-04) August 4, 1933 (age 80)
Sicily Island, LA, USA
Origin Oakland, CA, USA
Genres Jazz
Instruments Alto saxophone, English horn
Labels ESP-Disk

Huey "Sonny" Simmons (b. August 4, 1933, Sicily Island, Louisiana) is an American jazz musician.[1]


He grew up in Oakland, California, where he began playing the english horn. At age 16 he took up the alto saxophone, which became his primary instrument. He plays primarily in an avant-garde style occasionally bordering on free jazz. He was married to Barbara Donald, who played trumpet on several of his early records, including his ESP Disk titles: Staying on the Watch and Music From the Spheres. Personal problems derailed both his music career and home life, leading to divorce and homelessness. He busked on the streets of San Francisco for many years, until he resurrected his career in the early 1990s and began playing in night clubs again. He is one of the few jazz musicians to play the english horn.

In the early 1960s he worked with Charles Mingus and Prince Lasha, before recording his own LPs for ESP-Disk.


As leader[edit]

  • 1966: Staying on the Watch
  • 1968: Music From the Spheres
  • 1969: Manhattan Egos
  • 1970: Rumasuma
  • 1971: Burning Spirits
  • 1982: Backwoods Suite
  • 1990: Global Jungle
  • 1994: Ancient Ritual
  • 1997: American Jungle
  • 2001: Tales Of The Ancient East
  • 2004: The Future Is Ancient
  • 2005: The Traveler
  • 2006: I'll See You When You Get There
  • 2007: Last Man Standing
  • 2007: Ecstatic Nostalgia
  • 2008: True Wind
  • 2009: Atomic Symphony
  • 2011: Symphony Of The Peacocks
  • 2013: Beyond The Planets

With The Cosmosamatics

  • 2004: Reeds & Birds
  • 2007: Free Within the Law
  • 2013: Jazz Maalika

As sideman[edit]

With Prince Lasha

With Elvin Jones/Jimmy Garrison

With Eric Dolphy


External links[edit]