Sonny Simmons - Music From the Spheres (1968), 6/10

Sonny Simmons side by side with Barbara Donald create a refreshing product of free jazz in Music From the Spheres that excels in dynamics and familiarized interplay at a level that most can’t reach. I don’t particularly love the structure in some of these pieces or their aesthetics, but the success of the project’s achieved sound during passages of “Zarak’s Symphony” and “Balladia” is undeniably strong. It is a continuation of ethos from Staying on the Watch but with its own identity and its own vibrant animation. “Balladia” is perhaps the highlight as an almost confusing yet endearing style of ballad that hosts more chaos than anything before its lucid comedown. “Dolphy’s Days” has its moments, but fails to do anything particularly moving, relying too heavily on individual inspiration rather than leaning into the album’s consistent strengths up until this point. The passages where Simmons and Donald are free to explore their combined ideas, however, are some of the most interesting, so it becomes a matter of personal taste as to which instance of melody you enjoy. They all have their thematic strengths. For my money, rivals Staying on the Watch as one of Simmons’ stronger records for its consistency and graceful reciprocation.