The slightly unusual date Two Jims and a Zoot features tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims interacting with two guitarists (Jimmy Raney and Jim Hall) while given subtle support by bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Osie Johnson. Although the eight selections (none of which caught on as standards) had all been written recently and sometimes display the influence of bossa nova, the quiet performances could pass for 1954 rather than 1964. The cool-toned improvisations and boppish playing have a timeless quality about them although for the time period aspects of this music already sounded a bit old-fashioned.
Formerly put out by Storyville, this audiophile CD reissue features the great Zoot Sims performing in a quartet with bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and two notable expatriates: pianist Kenny Drew and drummer Ed Thigpen…
24bit digitally remastered reissue. Comes housed in a cardboard sleeve. This release compiles two wonderful LPs presenting Zoot Sims playing bossa nova songs, as well as jazz standards in a bossa nova mood arranged by Manny Albam and Al Cohn: New Beat Bossa Nova (Colpix SCP435), and its sequel, New Beat Bossa Nova Vol. 2 (Colpix SCP437). Recorded in 1962, these were among the first albums to combine bossa nova and jazz. Both LPs feature the outstanding guitarist Jim Hall as a soloist.
Live at Falcon Lair has a more interesting back story than many older recordings that have been rescued for posterity, but even the story takes a backseat to the excellent music. Falcon Lair wasn't a club, but the home of Doris Duke (and once the home of Rudolph Valentino), whom pianist Joe Castro married in 1956. Castro developed his musical rep playing around L.A., sometimes in the company of bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Ron Jefferson.
A few great slices of work by Zoot Sims – material recorded over a variety of sessions for Pacific Jazz – but all of it pretty darn great! Sims wasn't as much of a west coast hornman as some of the other leaders on Pacific Jazz – so the array of tracks makes for some surprising moments, both in Zoot's career, and for the label. Side one of the album has Zoot playing with a Gerry Mulligan ensemble on titles that include "I'll Remember April", "Red Door", and "Flamingo". Side two features Zoot playing instrumentals that were cut at the same time as an Annie Ross vocal session – with a group that includes Russ Freeman on piano, Jim Hall on guitar, and Mel Lewis on drums. Titles on that one are "You're Driving Me Crazy", "Brushes", and "Choice Blues".
A rare gem from Zoot Sims – very different than any of his other albums! The session features Zoot blowing over large backings arranged and conducted by Gary McFarland, a bit in the older Verve "with strings" mode, but also sparkling with a lot of the newer elements that McFarland was bringing to his work at the time. The approach is both light and lush at the same time – and Zoot's got a tone and approach that we've never heard on any other record, making the whole album an incredible treat that we'd rank up there with Stan Getz's experiments of the same type from the 60s. Titles include "I Wish I Knew", "Does The Sun Really Shine On The Moon", "Once We Loved", "Old Folks", "September Song", "Stella By Starlight", and "Once I Could Have Loved".