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.
01. Capacity in Blues (Norman Simmons) 3:55
02. Stella by Starlight (Young-Washington) 3:07
03. Jan (Norman Simmons) 3:25
04. My Funny Valentine (Rodgers-Hart) 3:57
05. Peppe (Norman Simmons) 4:13
06. Chili Bowl (Norman Simmons) 3:36
07. Moonlight in Vermont (Suessdorf-Blackburn) 3:43
08. You Do Something to Me (Cole Porter) 2:39
09. Love Is Eternal (Norman Simmons) 4:03
10. They Cant Take That Away From Me (G. & I. Gershwin) 3:30
11. Tranquility (Norman Simmons) 3:09
12. Trees (Rasbach-Kilmer) 2:34
13. Vera (Bill Evans) 3:23
14. Im Glad There Is You (Madeira-Dorsey) 3:50
15. The Preacher (Horace Silver) 2:35
16. Crazy Rhythm (Meyer-Kahn) 2:45
17. Bye Bye, Blackbird (Henderson-Dixon) 4:17
18. Daybreak (Adamson-Grofe) 3:25
19. Consu (Jack Wilson) 5:31
20. Should I? (Brown-Freed) 4:03
21. Jeepers Creepers (Warren-Mercer) 3:00
Tracks #1-11, from the Norman Simmons' album "Norman Simmons Trio" (Argo LP 607)
Tracks #12-21, from the Richard Evans' album "Richard's Almanac" (Argo LP 658)
Personnel on #1-11:
The Norman Simmons Trio
Norman Simmons, piano; Victor Sproles, bass; Vernell Fournier, drums.
Recorded at Universal Studios, Chicago, October 1956
Personnel on #12-21:
The Richard Evans Trio
Jack Wilson, piano; Richard Evans, bass; Robert Barry, drums.
Recorded at Ter-Mar Studios, Chicago, July 21, 22 & 23, 1959
Original recordings supervised by Dave Usher
Produced for CD release by Jordi Pujol