Norman Simmons

  • 57 years of music in one week

    The dog days of summer are here. We're marking the start of August with a release that features our classic repertoire and highlights some of our special projects. This week's releases concentrates on important recording anniversaries. Classic recordings like Clifford Brown's Daahoud and Joy Spring (now available in F in addition to the E-flat version added earlier this summer) with details to these classics that are frequently overlooked. We've also added a new vocal selection: Jon Hendricks's lyric to Moanin' by Bobby Timmons. Three more of our composers recorded four years ago this week in what we call our "Duos with Daryl" in a project with the extremely talented young bassist, Daryl Johns, who had just turned 15 years old at the time. We're releasing three pieces, two of which have only been recorded as part of this project, to commemorate the anniversary: Red Sky Waltz (Don Friedman),  Silk (Norman Simmons), and Blues Scam (Richard Wyands). To celebrate their birthdays this week, we are also adding A Laugh For Rory (Rahsaan Roland Kirk) and Smoke Signal (John Webber). This release celebrates music recorded from 1954 to 2011 -- a diverse and exciting selection:

    CLIFFORD BROWN: Daahoud How well do you know Daahoud? Try it exactly how the quintet played it. Two Clifford Brown trumpet solos available.

    CLIFFORD BROWN: Joy Spring Think you know Joy Spring? Think again! New lead sheets in F available. Clifford Brown trumpet solo transcriptions available: master and alt takes from the quintet version (B-flat and C editions); septet version (B-flat and C editions).

    BOBBY TIMMONS & JON HENDRICKS: Moanin' A gospel-inspired lyric on a soul-jazz classic.

    RICHARD WYANDS: Blues Scam Angular hard-bop blues with a bridge. Piano-bass duo score available. This piece has never been recorded before. From the Duos With Daryl series; a jazzleadsheets.com audio exclusive.

    NORMAN SIMMONS: Silk Smooth rhythm changes. Piano-bass duo score available. This piece has also never been recorded before. From the Duos With Daryl series; a jazzleadsheets.com audio exclusive.

    DON FRIEDMAN: Red Sky Waltz Flowing & lovely with changing meter. Piano-bass duo score available. From the Duos With Daryl series; a jazzleadsheets.com audio exclusive.

    RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK: A Laugh For Rory Simple & modal, in two-part harmony. First and second parts available.

    JOHN WEBBER: Smoke Signal A modern head with many rhythm section hits in the head.

  • A better jazzleadsheets.com is coming. Stay tuned.

    We’ve grown so much over the last few years that our current website literally can’t handle us anymore: we can’t add any new composers or albums! So we’re keeping our fingers crossed that March will be the month we can unveil the new look and features of the new jazzleadsheets.com. The expanded and enriched new site has been close to three years in the making, and while it’s been a long road, the final product will be worth the wait.

    Fortunately, we still have more great charts from albums and composers that are already on our current site, so here are seven new additions.

    LUCKY THOMPSONN R #1 An angular blues with an unusual form, this quirky Lucky Thompson piece is pure fun. The melody twists through the blues scale in unexpected patterns, creating a memorable, modern sound. Sleek and sophisticated.

    LUCKY THOMPSONN R #2 The unusual name of this piece and N R #1 might imply that the two go together, but you’ll hear that they couldn’t be more different. It has a classic sound with Lucky’s charming melodic style. Lead sheets and second parts available.

    VALERY PONOMAREVMirage A contrast in snappy, punctuated riffs and long, lyrical lines. The striking interplay of the bold A theme and the soft B theme creates appealing drama. Lead sheets and second parts available.

    KENNY DREW, JR.: Passionata An evocative, masterful bossa which evolved from a manuscript fragment by Kenny Drew, Sr.,  completed by his son. We’re featuring two different clips of this tender bossa, both from the same album: one is Kenny Drew Jr.’s opening trio rendition and the other is his album-closing version with strings.

    NORMAN SIMMONS: Good Humors A laid-back, supremely cool swing from Norman Simmons. The call-and-response between the persistent groove in the rhythm section and the contrasting melody in the horns creates a great conversation. Lead sheets and second parts available.

    STEVE NELSONFor Wes A beautiful ballad dedicated to quitarist Wes Montgomery, from composer/vibist Steve Nelson. He performs the solo section with a double time feel a la Wes Montgomery. Wistful and heartfelt, the melody of this ballad is simply gorgeous.

    VALERY PONOMAREVMeans Of Identification Another Valery Ponomarev piece to expand your repertoire! This brassy piece is in 3/4 and combines hard-bop vocabulary and a hint of Latin influence. Valery sets a bright horn melody over a rich rhythmic background.

    Check out our new charts today!

  • Be jolly: Deck your music stands with new lead sheets.

    'Tis the season of giving, so we're keeping these holidays merry and bright with a new collection of lead sheets.

    HANK MOBLEYNight Watch That’s right — we’ve got more of this classic composer and we can’t wait to share it! Hank Mobley’s winning melodic style — singable, simple lines — is on display here in this Latin/swing hybrid.

    NORMAN SIMMONSSlumberettes Don’t sleep on this jazzy lullaby. This sweet, lilting waltz by composer/pianist Norman Simmons is sensitive and graceful. Pianists, be sure to check out our solo piano arrangements: one by Norman himself and an easy piano arrangement by Don Sickler. Both were recorded exclusively for jazzleadsheets.com by maestro Kenny Drew, Jr. Concert condensed score and second parts available.

    BILL BARRONMinor Mode Don’t confuse this piece with the Booker Little composition of the same name! This energetic medium swing makes a great introduction to the underrated (but always impressive) hard bop composer Bill Barron. Second and third parts available.

    JON BURRRainbow Over Harlem Jon Burr’s charming medium swing has a memorable and dreamy melody — and it’s available in editions both for instrumentalists and singers! Vocalists will love stretching their ears with this piece that we’ve made available in both female- and male-friendly keys. And everyone will enjoy the laid-back feel that supports the alluring melody.

    ROB BARGADTears A sultry, slow Latin piece that mixes a modern jazz melody with a smoldering cha-cha/bolero groove. Rob Bargad flaunts his compositional prowess on this chart. If you’re not hip to this current composer yet, now’s the time to start!

    Share the joy with us at jazzleadsheets.com!

  • The holidays are here at jazzleadsheets.com

    The holidays are just around the corner, and it’s been getting snowy here in New York. We’re celebrating the season through great charts — check them out and join in our holiday revelry!

    Kicking off our new additions is a swing/Latin hybrid by Elmo Hope - Abdullah. The minor melody is tuneful and memorable — it might just get stuck in your head. Since Elmo originally recorded this composition with his quintet, we have the original parts available to try out with your own quintet (alternate parts are also available). If you want to play it solo or try out your own arrangement, we offer a regular leadsheet as well. Either way, it’s a strong addition to any set.

    On the slower side of Latin is Los Milagros Pequenos, a mysterious and alluring piece by Norman Simmons. The melody of this chart is slow and meditative; it floats over a repeating bass line that anchors the piece. Norman originally recorded this chart with his quintet, but also wrote a solo piano arrangement for it. The piano arrangement is a great choice for intermediate pianists looking to brush up on their Latin skills — it’s not simplified at all, but isn’t too tricky either. To go along with the piano arrangement, we have an exclusive audio track featuring Kenny Drew Jr. It’s a great example of how to play this beautiful composition.

    If you’re looking for something with a bit more pep, look no further than Ray Bryant’s Bebop Irishman. This chart is as whimsical and fun as the name suggests — it has a jig-like pace with long bebop lines set over a simple folk-like chord progression. This is a good pick to feature the piano, since the long chromatic lines showcase pianistic dexterity. This is not to say that this piece is only for pianists. On a Buddy Rich recording, both flute and vibes are added to the melody, and George Shearing added guitar as well as vibes to the melody. We also have horn editions as well. For drummers, though, we have Evan Hughes’s transcription of Jo Jones’ playing. The transcription includes the drum introduction, time over the in head, trading fours with the piano, and the out chorus. The brushwork on this piece is so incredible that many drummers regard this recording as a sort of bible for brush playing. Now you don’t have to guess what Jo Jones was playing — you can try it all out yourself with this meticulously detailed transcription!

    For singers, we’re releasing the vocal version of the Gigi Gryce jazz standard Social Call. Jon Hendricks’s clever lyric is the perfect foil for the unforgettable melody, making the vocal version a popular choice for decades of singers. Try this chart out for yourself and join the ranks of Ernestine Anderson, Betty Carter, Earl Coleman, Karrin Allyson, Diane Reeves and Cecile McLorin Salvant — all of whom have recorded this classic composition.

    Finally, we have an exotic 7/4 blues from Julian Priester and Judy Niemack. Eros, Judy’s lyric version to Julian’s instrumental Blues for Eros, is a sexy musical retelling of the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche.  Eros, the son of the goddess Aphrodite, seduced Psyche until she figured out his godly identity. He abandoned her, forcing Psyche to seek counsel from Aphrodite, who sent her on a difficult quest to win back her love. Judy draws out the theme of blind passion so strong it verges on desperation; this theme is amplified by the seductive melody by Julian and the driving odd-meter pulse of the bass.

  • new August 22, 2012

    New titles for vocalists and everyone else. Instrumentalists, don’t let these great compositions go by without trying them. The accompaniment-only tracks are wonderful to practice with. Great composers. Try a few!

    A Something In A Summer’s Day (Kirk Nurock and Emily Dickinson) [vocal] A classy, and classic, ballad (or bossa). Sensitive performance by composer Kirk Nurock and vocalist Janis Siegel.

    A Shot Of Blues Juice (Norman Simmons and Judy Niemack) [vocal] A great way to involve an audience - “Let’s start with a shot of Blues Juice!” Relax and learn to swing with Judy Niemack and Norman Simmons.

    If You Believe (Ray Bryant and Tina May) [vocal] A Ray Bryant composition with lyric by Tina May. Learn the Latin/calypso feeling with the master, Ray on piano with bass & drums. No better way to practice.

    Garden In The Sand (Hank Mobley and Bebe Herring) [vocal] A haunting Hank Mobley bossa with a lyric to intrigue.

    Try As I May (Meredith d’Ambrosio) [vocal] Listen to Meredith’s graceful and moving performance, then make your own version.

  • new December 28, 2011

    If You Could Love Me - Norman Simmons A beautiful Norman Simmons composition, with lyrics by Norman. Sung in a slow Latin tempo by Carmen McRae, later, at different tempos by other vocalists. You can also gain interesting insight into Carmen’s phasing from our vocal transcription of her performance, available separately. Email us (don@secondfloormusic.com) for different keys!

    Juliano - Julian Priester Lead sheets and his trombone solo are available from his first recording as a leader, the KEEP SWINGIN’ album on Riverside Records. An energetic ABCD form composition. The melody is constantly modulating as it evolves.

    Valse Robin - Dexter Gordon Dexter Gordon’s beautiful waltz for his daughter Robin, a 64-measure expanded AABA form. Recorded on THE PANTHER! album.

    Harbor Freeway 5 P.M. - Jack Wilson Two separate lead sheet treatments. First recorded as an uptempo sizzler to feature the drums, it later became a beautiful laid back composition. Compare Jack’s interpretations.

    Out Of Joe’s Bag (Hank Mobley) - Philly Joe Jones drum transcription Evan Hughes’ transcription of Philly Joe Jones’ performance on the ANOTHER WORKOUT album. Includes solo drum introduction, playing behind the in and out melodies, and Philly Joe’s solo. More valuable insight into this phenomenal drummer!

    Don Sickler jazzleadsheets.com & secondfloormusic.com phone 212-741-1175 email don@secondfloormusic.com

  • Five new composers May 28, 2011

    As I’m sure you’ve been able to see, we publish for a lot of great composers. This week we’re adding five new ones to jazzleadsheets.com. Except for Eddie Costa, who died five years before I got to New York, I’ve had the honor of knowing them personally.

    Of these additions, guitarist Chuck Wayne was the first on the jazz scene. He emerged in the early 1940s and contributed greatly to the new music that was being called bebop. His composition Slightly Dizzy will bring you right back to the energy of the bebop era. It illustrates a favorite device of composers and improvisers, borrowing and enhancing the chord changes of an American standard: this time, How High The Moon.

    Pianist Norman Simmons arrived on the recording scene in the early 1950s. Early on, he wrote a hit for prominent Chicago tenor saxophonist Paul Bascomb. This helped ensure a steady gig for his trio at important Chicago clubs that brought in guest artists, which in turn provided Norman the opportunity to accompany Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Wardell Grey and many more of the jazz greats. Norman has written many wonderful compositions that we’ll be exploring in the months to come. I decided to start your introduction to him with Stiffed, Norman’s clever composition based on the changes of Just Friends.

    Eddie Costa (piano and vibes) also emerged in the 1950s. He was the Down Beat Critics poll winner on both instruments in 1957. Unfortunately, he was killed in a car accident at thirty-one years of age, and he hadn’t spent much time writing his own original compositions. He did write a few, however, and we’ll be exploring them in the months to come. For now, enjoy his Blues Plus Eight.

    I miss bassist/composer Charles Fambrough, who died this past January, 2011. Charles had a long bout battling kidney failure. He loved music, and we always had beautiful conversations about music and musicians. Charles was still in his twenties when he wrote and recorded One For Honor with McCoy Tyner. He was not only one of the foremost bassists of his generation, but also a marvelous composer.

    Cecilia Coleman is the youngest of our five new composers, but she’s been on the NYC scene now for over a decade. She is originally from California, where she did some recording and composing before coming to New York. She’s a marvelous pianist/composer with a broad composing palette. If her name already looks familiar to you at jazzleadsheets.com, it’s because she’s the pianist on many of the tracks we’ve recorded for jazzleadsheets.com. Her own first composition to be posted is an interesting 3/4 adventure called Pearl.

    --Don Sickler

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