Zoot Sims

October 14, 2013

Lost Tapes: Baden-Baden (June 23, 1958)
Jazzhaus JH #101710

Zoot Sims
Delmark-Jump 12 36

Most overtly swinging of the post-War tenor saxophonists influenced by Lester Young, Zoot Sims (1925-1985) kept one foot in big band swing and the other in contemporary jazz, as these dynamic CDs handily demonstrate. 1955’s Compatability is West Coast jazz with guts, while Lost Tapes, a German broadcast, unites Sims with top European jazzmen of the day (1958). Initially trumpeter Hall Daniels’ date, Compatability was reissued on LP in the ‘70s with additional tracks and arrives on CD expanded with even more material. Now it features multiple versions of the tunes, with none less than swinging.

Daniels’ arranging skills are confirmed during the four variants of “Nash-ville”, each of which has subtly different backing chords. Besides trombonist Dick Nash’s showcased tongue flutters, there’s room for Sims’ drawling runs and vibrant Johnny Smith-like picking from guitarist Tony Rizzi. Baritone saxophonist Bob Gordon, tragically killed in an auto accident six months later, is featured on the three variants of the title track, also composed by Daniels. Although similar each baritone solo is executed with a gritty lightness, and this nimbleness is echoed by muted trumpet with Rolly Bundock’s four-square bass work here and elsewhere balancing the program.

With the crucial backing of dynamic drummer Kenny Clarke – Paris-based after quitting the Modern Jazz Quartet – plus visiting American trombonist Willie Dennis, Lost Tapes demonstrates the sophistication of some Teutonic jazzmen. The stand outs are Austrian Hans Koller, who plays alto and tenor saxophone and clarinet here as does Sims; gutsy German baritone saxophonist Helmut Brandt; and Austrian pianist Hans Hammerschmid, later a respected film and TV composer, who also contributes three high-quality originals.

Part jam session, partly arranged, the CD gives healthy solo space for all concerned which in Koller’s case confirms his closeness to Sims but highlights his sharper tone. Operating in a modified swing bag, the addition of two flautists on Hammerschmid’s “Open Door” makes the band resemble the Basie band of the day. Tellingly Clarke’s breaks, heavy on bass drum bombs and ratamacues, relate more to swing than bop. So does the pianist’s “Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets”. Sims and Koller play decidedly straight-ahead, while the composer intensifies the groove. Brandt is appropriately slurpy and swift on “Open Door”, which could be a recast “Jive at Five”, Dennis displays his big band section smarts on “These Foolish Things” and the CD wraps up with “Trottin”, a 1951 Sims original that’s a “Four Brothers” cousin. A standard of unpretentious excellence is maintained on Lost Tapes. Plus both CDs confirm Sims’ compatibility on any date.

–Ken Waxman

Tracks: Lost: All The Things You Are; Alan’s Alley; Minor Meeting For Two Clarinets; Fallin’In Love; Blue Night; Open Door; I Surrender Dear%; Tangerine; These Foolish Things; I’ll Remember April#; Trottin’

Personnel: Lost: Willie Dennis: trombone #5, 9, 10, 11); Zoot Sims: alto and tenor saxophones, and clarinet [except 4, 9, 10]; Hans Koller: alto and tenor saxophones, and clarinet [except 2, 7, 9]; Adi Feuerstein and Gerd Husemann: flutes^; Helmut Brandt: flute, baritone sax%; Hans Hammerschmid: piano; Peter Trunk: bass; Kenny Clarke: drums

Tracks: Compatability: The Way You Look Tonight; Nash-Ville; You Don’t Know What Love Is; Compatability: The Way You Look Tonight2; Nash-Ville2; You Don’t Know What Love Is2; Compatability2: The Way You Look Tonight3; Nash-Ville3; Studio Chatter; Compatability3; Nash-Ville4

Personnel: Compatability: Hal Daniels: trumpet Dick Nash: trombone; Zoot Sims: tenor saxophone; Bob Gordon: baritone saxophone; Paul Atkinson: piano; Tony Rizzi: guitar; Rolly Bundock: bass; Jack Sperling: drums.