Norman Simmons (p), Victor Sproles (b), Vernell Fournier (d) / Jack Wilson (p), Richard Evans (b), Robert Barry (d)
Reference: FSRCD 787
A superb craftsman and an accomplished soloist, arranger, composer and educator, pianist Norman Simmons was born in Chicago in 1929. By 1954 he was leading a popular trio in his home town, where it became the group of choice for such visiting greats as Lester Young, Wardell Gray, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, and Dexter Gordon.
Simmons made his recording debut with his trio on this 1956 Argo album, sensitively accompanied by bassist Victor Sproles and drummer Vernell Fournier, his impeccable swing, taste, judgment and technique - and a trio approach redolent of pianist Billy Taylors - are evident throughout a varied programme of originals and standards. The ballads, Moonlight in Vermont and My Funny Valentine, in particular show an exquisite feel for the form.
Bassist Richard Evans, born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1932 but raised in Chicago, had an enviably multifaceted CV by the time he made his leader debut on record with Richards Almanac in 1959, also for Argo. Experience with the Sun Ra Arkestra, Lionel Hampton, Maynard Ferguson and as one of singer Dinah Washingtons accompanists, ensured he knew how to deliver. Leading a trio enhanced by the excellent work of pianist Jack Wilson and drummer Robert Barry, he offers a mobile fulcrum for an engagingly varied programme of standards and originals, deft, accessible and always swinging.
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