Cosmosamatics / Sonny Simmons

The Cosmosamatics II

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This free jazz band's recording project certainly deserves a sequel more than most of the big Hollywood hits. Coming up with The Cosmosamatics II was probably a whole lot less trouble than it takes to produce one of the latter monstrosities as well. This quartet, consisting of reed players Sonny Simmons and Michael Marcus flanked by a rhythm section of bassist Curtis Lundy and drummer Jay Rosen, could probably cut an album every evening for a week and still sound good. One of the main reasons is the rhythm section, lifting the music off the ground and sending it propulsively on its way in the very first minutes of the first track. Rosen makes royal use of his cymbals and gongs, and the interaction with Lundy is both strongly tonal and rhythmically solid. Marcus and Simmons are also an excellent combination, veterans of the free jazz scene who create a pleasing blend with their selection of horns. The former man plays a tenor sax that has had all the curves straightened out of it, hopefully not with a hot iron, as well as soprano sax, bass clarinet, and flute. Simmons has his familiar alto sax and English horn. Both men are solidly on form with their solos. "Fusionanatomy," for example, inspires some epic creations, the bassist and drummer following every twist and turn for the kind of collaborative storytelling that is at the heart of the best jazz. Elsewhere, the bass clarinet and English horn improvise together in a particularly attractive blend. "Echoes of Eric Dolphy" is the type of tricky head structure Dolphy used to come up with, the horns shimmering through the close interval harmonies. A few clumsy moments here and there don't matter much. It is really too much to expect this recording to break new ground -- after all, the original free jazz pioneers, Simmons among them, seem to have dug a hole all the way to China. But it is totally solid playing and will take up extended residency in the free jazz fan's disc player.