Courtesy of Sony Simmons

Jazz Friends Productions



I love Sonny Simmons. Like Charles Gayle, perhaps, it is because Simmons has witnessed adversity in the most challenging of forms. But also, like Gayle, Simmons can play the saxophone. I wish more labels would have the balls to record Simmons, but alas, nobody has balls these days. That is why I am starting the Roadshow label. Send money now (we accept American Express) and together, we may be able to document a musician worth his weight in gold. The standard of alto playing, Mr. Sonny Simmons, unedited and in his own words.

FRED JUNG: Let's start from the beginning.

SONNY SIMMONS: Well, what happened here is that my daddy was a preacher and he was first vocalist in the church. He was the pastor of the church, Reverend J. S. Simmons. My mother, she was first female vocalist in the church choir. We were all musical. I'm just about six years old, bright eyed, curly haired, little black kid that loved to go to church on Sundays and hear the music. I think I was about six years of age or six and a half. But I do remember quite vividly my upbringing in music. My dad also, not only being a great vocalist, he was a hell of a trap drummer. Back in those days, they called them traps. They didn't call them drums. That's how far back that music began with me in the backwoods of Louisiana. So I grew up with that type of, I think I was born with it. I can't say that I learned it as I progressed into the future of one's life. But I do think I was born with it and it came from a long lineage of ancient fathers and mothers and our ancestry because my daddy really had it and he was one hell of a preacher. He's one of the greatest preachers I ever heard preach in a church, in a Baptist church, black folks in the ghetto and all over America. He was the greatest I heard and I've heard a lot of preachers. But anyway, Fred, that was my background of growing up in music because at that time, I would attend church with my dad. I would look forward to it on Sundays. He went to the store somewhere and he bought me an old squeeze box accordion. Black and red was the color. I never will forget it. He just gave it to me and told me, "Look here boy. You can learn how to play this." It was a musical instrument. He squeezed it a little bit and sounds came out and it hypnotized me and so I fell in love with it right away. So I looked forward to every Sunday to bring my little squeeze box accordion. That was the only instrument I had at the time as a kid. And I would play it in church with him every Sunday to squeeze and press keys. It was an old, beautiful accordion, but it was old. It played and I dug the sounds that it transmitted. That was my earliest instrument that I could recall as a child growing up in Louisiana, near the Gulf of Mexico with the tribal music and voodoo that was going on at that time. The music and my blues heritage, my uncles, a lot of them played guitar. They was all blues masters, but they never went anywhere with it. It was just on the island with the family. My dad was the high priest of voodoo music and when he would do the voodoo ritual, all the peoples in the island, they would be dressed in white and they would come to this great, big festival of voodooism, but it was all for good. It wasn't for sticking the pin in the doll and that kind of shit.

FJ: That is Hollywood exploiting a stereotype.

SONNY SIMMONS: Yeah, that's right, Fred. It wasn't for that. It was for good. My father would go through the voodoo ritual and he would utter some words that I never heard since. It was for the good of peoples being healed who were sick. It was for the good of the land that it might have a big bumper crop. It wasn't for evil. So I don't know nothing about what Hollywood was doing there, promoting that propaganda on black folks.

FJ: I am trying to close my eyes and imagine you as a squeeze box accordion player.

SONNY SIMMONS: (Laughing) You can't fit that it. Well, as the years progressed into the future of one's life, I mean, I am six years old, six and a half in church when this was going on. That was the only thing that my dad could get me. He didn't get me a whistle or a horn to blow or an old, beat up trumpet. He just went and got the squeeze box accordion and so I appreciated that. As I grew from six and a half to ten or twelve, I didn't have no more interest in the squeeze box. I began to evolve to a higher level, so I would listen to a lot of music, classical music. In fact, when I was growing up as a kid, I thought those people, those voices I heard in the old radios, the old, wooden box radios, I thought it was little people inside of them. That's how innocent I was because I would hear these voices of people that I see everyday and see them talk and I'm thinking as a kid that these are little people inside. But anyway, my thing was all music. I put on a music station and I would sit there all through the days sometimes when my mother asked me to do chores. I be listening to classical music. I be listening to blues. I be listening to Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw and all those cats back in those days and Duke Ellington and Count Basie and those are my main boys because there was a big hit on the market in the early Forties during the War days called "One O'Clock Jump." Boy, the brothers and sisters wore the jukebox out putting nickels and dimes and I was right there with them doing the same thing as a little kid growing up around the music. As years progressed, my dad moved to California from Louisiana. He was a traveling preacher, a minister. He found a home for us in Oakland, California, the home of the Black Panthers, the revolutionaries in Oakland, California. As the years went, I think I can remember very clearly, vividly about fourteen years old, I would go see all these peoples like Duke and Basie or Cab Calloway and Lena Horne and Louis Jordan. Man, I am telling you, Fred, I've seen all these cats alive when I was fourteen and you had to only pay fifty cents back then. You dig? So I am growing up around all this music and then, as the years passed and I was going into my teens years, I heard Charlie Parker, I was seventeen years old at the Oakland Auditorium and man, it changed my life.

FJ: How did Bird change your life?

SONNY SIMMONS: I had never heard no music like that before, all the years I was growing up, into my teens. To see this beautiful black man stand up there and fill the whole auditorium with all these beautiful sounds that I had never heard before. I fell in love with the music and also the man who was producing it. I told my parents. I said, "I want a saxophone." So I started out on saxophone, but really my true instrument is cor
anglais. It is an alto oboe. It belongs to the oboe family. They call it the English horn sometimes. I prefer to call it the cor anglais. It is a double reed instrument. It is only played in symphony orchestras. So I was very attracted to that instrument when I was about ten because I used to listen to a lot of classical music and I loved the sound of cor anglais. It is so eastern and it is so ancient. I've been playing it for years. I grew up with this out of my teens. I've recorded many albums with the cor anglais. And I have some new ones coming out soon that I have now. I've been playing the cor anglais for years. They call it the English horn. It's an alto oboe. It is very rare. But anyway, I am still playing it. I am playing it today very frequently. In fact, when I get back to Europe soon in the next two or three weeks, I am going to start a string quartet featuring the cor anglais. I'm going into that kind of music when I leave America. I'm going back to Europe to find a place to hideaway to write for a string quartet and the cor anglais. I want to change my style of music, maybe I can really make a living at this instead of what I'm doing now. That's my plan, Fred. However, the music started after Charlie Parker, where I was indoctrinated by Bird's music and just tied it in with all these great saxophonists. They had Lester Young and they had Illinois Jacquet. They had Diz and they had Bud Powell and they had Ray Brown. I've seen all these cats when I was a kid, so I come up under their influence. They had a great influence upon me, jazz music by Afro-American people. There was a few white boys that I dug and white ladies that could sing. I dug them too. Doris Day, I dug her. She was a movie lady, but she had a nice voice. You see, Fred, I dig talent. I don't care who produces it. I even dug Artie Shaw and that was way back in the Forties and he's a white boy. And I dug a little Benny Goodman. He didn't kill me too much.

FJ: I hear some Bird in your playing. Frankly, if Bird was around today, I always figured he would be playing like Sonny Simmons.

SONNY SIMMONS: Obviously, you have heard some of my work. I've always tried to be in that concept of Bird's playing, but not just sound like him.

FJ: In those days, everyone and their mother tried to sound like Bird.

SONNY SIMMONS: That's true. They did. I practiced everyday and I did sound like Bird in the early days, very much so. But after growing into your own voice, you loose some of that. You just don't deal with that, but Bird is always with me. I can pick up my horn right now and play some Charlie Parker because I was indoctrinated by him years ago. My recording venue in my life has been so poorly handled so I didn't get a chance to do a lot of these things in the early years like Seventies and Eighties, like I should have. Now, we're in 2000, but I'm still with Bird, the new Bird, so I am into that right now.

FJ: You referred to your recording output and the lack there of.

SONNY SIMMONS: That's true, Fred. That is what happened.

FJ: Why have record companies shied away from documenting your work?

SONNY SIMMONS: I have no idea, Fred. I really can't give an accurate answer to that because I was under contract in California with a beautiful recording company located in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Los Angeles, named Contemporary Records. Lester Koenig, he took an interest in my music because he recorded all the brothers that could play that were great artists.

FJ: He certainly did, putting it in the wind and recording Ornette (Something Else!!!, Tomorrow is the Question!).

SONNY SIMMONS: Yeah, he did. He started off and took a chance with Ornette. He was a great producer. My last album that I did with Contemporary, I think I did three or four of them with that label and the last one was a double LP, which was fashionable at that time. It was called Burning Spirits, double album at that time. He was supposed to follow up with another album with Elvin Jones, I mean, Coltrane's rhythm section, he wanted to record me with them. And a month later, this cat dies of a heart attack in his Beverly Hills mansion, in his home. He dies of a heart attack. So my dreams went down the drain after that because I was only recording because I was hooked up with, in the Seventies, was Contemporary Records and Lester Koenig. God bless his soul. But he died and my whole thing went down the drain. After they released Burning Spirits, they blacklisted me because I spoke out about politics and about all the musicians like Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy and God knows who else and they thought I was starting some kind of political thing.

FJ: Why did you speak out about Albert Ayler?

SONNY SIMMONS: Albert was a hell of a musician. He was real and he wasn't just another saxophone player. To me, as an individual saxophone player myself, and a person, and a fan, Albert was an innovator. He was not just another saxophone player. He was great. He was an innovator. And he started the new music and the avant-garde as they call it today. Albert Ayler, he's original. He was the first cat I heard to play out like that and then Coltrane heard him in the early Sixties and he fell in love with him. He knew that he had something that no one else had and then he died so suddenly. And I spoke about that in my liner notes when I done this last recording for Contemporary Records called Burning Spirits and they blacklisted me for twenty-five years after that. I couldn't get no dates no more. Didn't nobody want to deal with me. I couldn't even work in clubs anymore. I'm telling you, Fred, I went through all the Seventies with no work. I went through the Eighties, until about 1980, I got to work in San Francisco because I left. My family life broke up. I had raised two kids and worked day jobs for years.

FJ: In my home, Ayler is an icon, but history has failed to recognize his role.

SONNY SIMMONS: Because the media and the radio stations doesn't push that kind of music and then a lot of so called jazz stations, they don't push it either. They push commercial jazz. He had made it to the top of what he was supposed to be about and he became a very heavy star with ABC/Paramount, Impulse!, same company that Coltrane was with before he passed away. Bob Theile was recording him at that time. It is just really traumatic about how he passed away suddenly at the heap of his recognition in the East River in New York City.

FJ: Ayler's death and the circumstances surrounding it have become urban legend. Do you know what happened to Albert Ayler?

SONNY SIMMONS: No, I have no idea, but I have my suspicions.

FJ: And they are?

SONNY SIMMONS: I wouldn't want to say that at this time since I am already a target for controversy and politics.

FJ: Fuck 'em.

SONNY SIMMONS: (Laughing) That's the way I feel too. OK, at that time, I had a little studio on 6th, right here on the East Side, Lower East Side, New York City at that time, back in the Sixties. All the cats used to come by my studio and we would practice. I would be practicing all the time anyway. And at that time, Woodstock was booming and I had a house up in Woodstock at that time, so I could go from New York to there. Albert's brother, Donnie Ayler (Donald Ayler, trumpeter), used to come by my studio a lot. Now, Albert, he was working a lot at that time. He was in Europe and so he got wind of what his brother was doing and so he used to come over and bring his horn to my studio on 6th on the Lower East Side at that time. And we would all practice together. Now, along with that, I found out that Albert was dealing with some unsavory white boys uptown because he was living up in Harlem at that time, him and his brother, Donnie. They didn't want to deal with Donnie in the recording industry. They just wanted Albert. You dig it? They didn't want to keep them together. So Donnie used to come and tell me a lot of stories about when him and Albert were together in the apartment. They were living together. They were brothers. And these white boys knock on the door and he would have to be excused from their presence. This is what Donnie used to tell me and I thought that was very strange and unsavory and cloak and dagger shit, something is wrong here. It really tore his brother up emotionally. He couldn't understand that. Then I saw Albert times after that, during that period before he died mysterious or killed mysteriously or whatever way you want to look at it. He was shot and he had just signed a new contract with ABC. They extended his six month contract and he was looking good, Fred. Albert looked great. He was dressed in fashion quality clothing. He had hundred dollar bills in his pocket and he was feeling good and the brother deserved it and I was happy for him. So we celebrated. He took us out to dinner, bought some drinks and we got drunk and all that shit. After that, Albert went to Europe again. I moved from New York, at that time, to California, back to Oakland. I was working on the road. One day, I was driving my van on the freeway in California, at that time, and the jazz station announced that Albert Ayler just had passed away mysterious. His body was dragged out from the East River and the East River is not too far from where I was living in the Lower East Side. That messed me up. I almost got into an accident driving on the freeway at the time when the news came over KJAZ in Oakland. It messed me up. I pulled to the side and got out of the car. Man, I was pissed. I was tore up. I went psycho. Yeah, I went psycho on the freeway. Motherfuckers, people were driving by and they didn't know what's wrong with this crazy nigger on the freeway, just going berserk. I was kicking the car. I was pounding the motherfucking hood, just the front of the van. And shit, Fred, I just went berserk there for about, maybe, two or three minutes. Then I got back in the car and drove off. That was the end of my association with Albert at that time. That's all I can tell you about the brother, Fred. I know he was a beautiful brother. He was one hell of a musician, saxophonist and he took it one step beyond and he was truly an innovator. He wasn't just a saxophone player. I love Albert's music. I love Albert, period, because we had a brief association at that time, but it was very valid.

FJ: I recall my father telling me in my youth that the company you keep defines the man you are. By that standard, you are a man among men because you also collaborated with Eric Dolphy as well.

SONNY SIMMONS: Oh, ah-la-lo-la-lay! I hear you brother man. Eric, Fred, I am telling you man, the way me and Eric met, this Jew boy in New York at that time, he had a loft on 2nd Avenue and 4th Street. Clifford Jordan was the leader of that trip. He found this Jew boy, who was interested in recording jazz musicians at that time. So Clifford came and got me and took me over to the loft and the cat's name was Fred and he loved the music. He cared about musicians. They could stay at his place if they had no place else to go and he'd give them money to buy what they need. He was that kind of guy. But anyway, we were rehearsing there one day. It was Don Cherry, Grachan Monchur, the trombonist, Charles Moffett, Ornette's drummer at that time, and Clifford Jordan, myself and also Prince Lasha was present and that was it. We were rehearsing on some new material for Fred and in walks Eric Dolphy. I couldn't believe it. I was sitting there with my alto and my cor anglais and my horn almost fell down onto the floor (laughing). Dolphy comes in and I wrote a new composition called "Music Matador," and we were working on it and Eric said he loved it because it reminded him of California, back home, where he was born and raised, down in Los Angeles because a lot of Mexican people live in the area and there's a lot of Mexican music going on that he grew up with. The melody reminded him of his early upbringing and so he fell in love with the melody. He asked me that he was going to take me into the recording studio with this melody. We all were going to play. He hired Clifford Jordan and dead in walks Woody Shaw. This kid just came into town back then. The kid was eighteen years old. Yeah, man, in walked Woody Shaw. I don't know how he found the date and the studio. J.C. Moses was the drummer and Richard Davis was the bass with another bass player. I forget this brother's name. I can't recall this brother's name, but he was important on the date (Eddie Kahn). It was one hell of a recording date with Eric as the leader. Our association grew from that and then we done a second date, which came up from that one date called Iron Man and I'm on that date also with Eric and then we just developed a beautiful association. Each time he would come over to the loft, we would practice. And then, he also would take lessons. I couldn't believe it. Here is a cat that I am in awe about and his ability to play all three of these appliances, these instruments, rather, equally (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and flute), not one for a showpiece or gimmick. Eric played all three of those instruments equally and he was astounding. And so he said, "I'm taking lessons. Do you want to take lessons," from a great teacher in New York at that time. His name was Garvin Bushell. He had done some recording with Coltrane on the cor anglais. It is a tune that John wrote called "India." That was Garvin Bushell. Eric would take lessons from this cat and he took me over there and I took some lessons too a few times at a hundred dollars an hour that he was charging way back in the Sixties. I learned a lot from Eric and I learned a lot from his teacher that he was taking lessons from. That astounded me, but anyway, we developed a real beautiful, close brother relationship. Eric was a beautiful guy. He didn't do nothing. He was always clean cut and beautiful and he loved the brothers who were trying to struggle to play. Coltrane was the same way at the time because all these cats was alive then. And then, shortly after we had grown and developed a beautiful friendship, he goes to Europe with Mingus' band and he remains in Europe. Mingus and them come back. They came back and left Eric there. Eric said that he was going to stay and I don't blame him. I would stay too because he was a tremendous musician. He passed away in 1964.

FJ: When did you get the word?

SONNY SIMMONS: I got word of it, I think it was about a week later, because it happened in Germany. Dannie Richmond came over to my studio and told me what really happened. I didn't like what happened, what Dannie Richmond told me because he was with Mingus' band at that time in Germany. The brothers that were there believe the printed matter, the newspaper media and all that shit.

FJ: You crossed paths with Mingus.

SONNY SIMMONS: Yeah, I played with Mingus' band, back during the time when Charlie McPherson was done and Lonnie Hillyer was the trumpet player and I was living in San Francisco at that time when Mingus would come through the Jazz Workshop.

FJ: Was he as much of a hard on as rumor has it?

SONNY SIMMONS: He was a motherfucker, but he was a good guy. He was just hardcore when it came to certain things. He was very sensitive to certain things and he would get violent.

FJ: What would set him off?

SONNY SIMMONS: Disrespect, not listening if he said something about music, or not playing it correct and if you keep stumbling over it like you don't care, he would get pissed off. Normally, anyone would do that at certain times. Sometimes, he would get abnormal with it. He was that way because we had a brief association in New York before he died. He used to come to my studio. They just had released a new book, this book that he had written called Bravo. You will find it if they still have it in print. It is a hell of a book that Mingus wrote about his life. He celebrated that and that was my last hook up with Mingus. However, when we met in San Francisco, he wanted me to work with his band. At that time, he had Rahsaan Roland Kirk working with him. So I was there when it was going on and he asked me to work with him and take Rahsaan's place and I said, "No." That's when we fell out. I was a young cat then. I think I was about twenty-seven, twenty-eight years old. I was playing very well, alto bebop. Rahsaan was a killer and I loved Rahsaan. At the time, we called him Roland Kirk. We called him Roland. The brother's blind and he's playing three horns simultaneously. I said, "No, the brother's blind and I can't take this brother's job." He's great and I love him because I buy his records too. And Mingus got pissed off with me. He said, "Nobody ever turned down to work a job with me." I said, "Man, it is not that. It is just that I don't want to take Roland's job." It was as simple as that. He's blind and he's playing like a motherfucker. If he was jiving, I would have took the job. But here is a guy and he's an innovator. He is astronomical. So I just told Mingus that I couldn't take the job.

FJ: There is an unwritten code, you don't piss in another man's pool.

SONNY SIMMONS: No, I don't do that. I don't practice that. I was raised by Christian peoples in a manner of speaking. It didn't have much effect on me, but I do believe in God and there is certain things that I don't do. I've always kept that honor with myself and I feel good about it.

FJ: Historians have a perception that you "dropped out of the scene." Did you step away willingly or were you forced out?

SONNY SIMMONS: I was forced out, Fred. I had to work on the streets of San Francisco for fifteen years, on the streets for fifteen, long, grueling years. I was homeless for fifteen years, working on the streets. I was a strung out junkie. The shit fucked me up, stuff I had never done in my life is use drugs. I didn't start using no drugs until I was forty-two years old, Fred. That was during the Seventies when they blacklisted me and Lester Koenig of Contemporary Records died. And I just got very manic depressant, Fred. I went into a whole lot of shit that I had no business dealing with, but I done it. That wasn't the tragedy. The tragedy was for fifteen years I was in San Francisco working on the streets for nickels and dimes, being insulted, spit up on, objects thrown at me and all kinds of shit, police call on me like I was a dog. I done went through that shit. It is just crazy. I hadn't disappeared. I hadn't left the music scene. It was just that these motherfuckers wouldn't hire me. In order to take care of myself, I had to result to that, so I used my talents to over. I don't like what I have to do on the streets, but when you're homeless, when Reagan came into office during the Eighties, all these black people were on the streets and I was right there with them. I was just a black man. They didn't give a fuck about my reputation or about my occupation, none of that shit. And I'm just playing saxophone on the street and that's all they would look at, like it wasn't shit. So I survived them fifteen years taking care of myself on the streets during that time. I kept my sanity together because I was playing music all the time.

FJ: Music was your salvation.

SONNY SIMMONS: Yeah, it was. Had I been doing anything other than that, I think I would have went under a long time ago.

FJ: Lesser men would have laid down under such anguish.

SONNY SIMMONS: That's right. It was because the love for the music, just plain and simply, the love of the music. I just love the music and I love playing my instruments and performing. That's what it was. That's the bottom and top line, the love for the music. The talent that God gave me, I've always honored and respected until this very hour that we're speaking about it with love. Hardship was both astronomical and traumatic, but just because of the love, I kept coming back. I wouldn't throw in the towel because of the love and all the cats that I knew, that I came up with, that helped me and inspired me along the way like those giant like Coltrane and Dolphy and Mingus and Monk. I also had an association with Monk. I've got some real, true life dramas to tell you about musicians that I hung out with. All those brothers died for this art form, the fine art of jazz on the battlefield in this polluted system with corrupt and fucked up and racist and fucked up. The whole trip, the machine destroys people, Fred. They died for that and so I still got to stand up.

FJ: You have been fighting the good fight, honoring musicians who have sacrificed their mortality for the music's advancement, how do you feel icons like Coltrane, Ayler, Mingus, and Dolphy would feel about the music today?

SONNY SIMMONS: I think they would be very pissed off about it because I'm pissed off about it because of how corrupt it became and the machinists don't feed it, but only to certain masses and they screen the other shit and hold it back. They keep it on the commercial beat and the commercial tone, where it can get to the average Joe and that's not what's happening, Fred. The music should be exposed to kids. The whole conglomerate of what the system is, in America and in the art form and in the fine art of jazz, should be exposed to kids and all the way up. It should be on the radios, but it isn't. It is on certain radio stations and then they only pump certain stuff. They don't pump the real thing all the time. They dabble and dib.

FJ: Your homecoming took the music by storm as you released two classics, Ancient Ritual and American Jungle, for Quincy Jones' label, Qwest. Why did you not sign an extension with the label?

SONNY SIMMONS: Well, they wanted to pick up the option on me, but they wanted me to come back with an agreement for the option for less money, so I refused to do it. The first CD made a big headway for me in the world, not just in the US, in whole entire world. So I wanted more money for the next recording, to pick up the option to continue to work with Qwest/Warner Bros. After the guys come back at me like that with less money. I mean, the money was so much less that I might as well have gone on the streets and played for nickels and dimes to make that kind of money. They wanted me to resign with them for three thousand dollars, Fred. Three thousand dollars, man, are you kidding? That's what they said. That ain't nothing, Fred. That wouldn't even make a recording. So I told them motherfuckers, "You all can have that shit. Give it to somebody else that is desperate and starving and younger and they might be able to deal with that, but I can't deal with that shit." So I just told them that and they didn't get in contact with me and I didn't care.

FJ: Fuck 'em.

SONNY SIMMONS: That's exactly the way I feel about it.

FJ: You also recorded two blowing sessions for the CIMP label, Transcendence and Judgment Day.

SONNY SIMMONS: The recordings, the music was fine, but the recording is zilch. The guy don't know how to record, Fred. I done put this on an expensive machine because I like to hear my stuff surround, stereo, Dolby, all the way around the room and you put this on and you have to turn the volume all the way up and you just can barely hear it. So I was very disturbed behind that because I didn't know the recording was that bad. On the first one, it was OK, but on the second one, Judgment Day, which was very important to my career and to me as a person, the musician, to present the tenor saxophone in the context that Albert and Coltrane left here and the cat done a terrible recording job on it. So I don't have too much respect for CIMP recording technicians. He's (Bob Rusch) been trying to get me, but I always refuse. I can't deal with that anymore. I have to be exclusive with some refined people who really understand the fine art of jazz music and who will recognize the fact that here is a brother who is still alive, in this day and age, who walked with the giants, slept with them and ate with them, played music and recorded with them. So they don't even want to acknowledge that, so I don't really give a damn. I'm going on back to Europe and start me a string quartet with cor anglais. I'm going to change my whole musical idea. I'm not going to even play jazz anymore.

FJ: Why turn your back on jazz?

SONNY SIMMONS: I'm tired of the lifestyle that goes with it and the way, Fred, I am sixty-seven years old and I ain't got shit except blacklisted and still talked about and disrespected and refuse to give me jobs like you're supposed to and recorded. I can't even get a recording date.

FJ: Do people fear Sonny Simmons?

SONNY SIMMONS: Yeah, I think so.

FJ: Why are they afraid?

SONNY SIMMONS: A whole lot of different psychological things of their own. It is like some Sigmund Freud psychodrama with the people outside of me because I don't have no problem, Fred, if I am dealing with a refined person of high perception and sensitivity and hip to the arts and to human nature, we can communicate fine, but I guess whatever their psychological problem is with themselves, they see that through their eyes and put that on other people as well.

FJ: There is too much fucking drama in this music.

SONNY SIMMONS: There sure is, Fred. It is getting psycho sick. I ain't even trippin' on it. I just want to find me a place to hideaway in Europe and I'll never be heard of again. They think they heard of that fifteen years in San Francisco drama. They won't hear from me no more. I can't find nobody to work with me.

FJ: Whoa. Let's not get crazy now. You keep fighting the good fight baby. If your voice went silent once more, we would all be the lesser for it.

SONNY SIMMONS: I hear you, Fred. I am going back to Europe to stay. I don't plan to come back, but if I do come back, it would have to be for a lot of money and something exclusive. Otherwise, I'm going to stay in Europe.

FJ: I had better start fundraising like a motherfucker.

SONNY SIMMONS: I hear you, Fred.

Fred Jung is Jazz Weekly's Editor-In-Chief and the best player in the WNBA. Email him.