Zoot Sims was one of Lester Young's most devoted followers. His friendly, relaxed manner and a knack for seemingly endless variation guarantee that most of Zoot's recordings are likely to satisfy and delight. In 1998 BMG International brought out a reissue combining 19 bop-infused recordings from two of Zoot's early Vogue sessions, which took place in Paris on June 26, 1950, and September 18, 1953. The first date, with pianist Gerry Wiggins, bassist Pierre Michelot, and drummer Kenny Clarke, includes quite a number of alternate takes. But if anybody sounds good thrice, it's Zoot. Painter Willem de Kooning once said: "You have to start, over and over again." These words seem especially relevant for early modern jazz. The art of the alternate take really came into its own during the late '40s and early '50s, and those who are so inclined are still savoring multiple sequential renditions of the same song played by Lester Young, Charlie Parker, and Wardell Gray. What's amazing about this chapter from Zoot's career is that three takes of Cole Porter's "Night and Day" almost seem to merge into one gorgeous nine minute improvisatory ritual; each three-minute segment feels like an extended chorus, and Zoot seems like he'd be happy to jam on it for another nine minutes. Whatever you like. Zoot's September sextet date featured trombonist Frank Rosolino and a rhythm section of pianist Henri Renaud, guitarist Jimmy Gourley, bassist Don Bagley, and drummer Jean-Louis Viale. Some of these guys were still buzzing from a Lee Konitz blowing session 24 hours earlier. In addition to no less than five themes conceived by Zoot Sims, this supremely hip compilation contains interpretations of two numbers associated with a recently deceased percussionist by the name of Tiny Kahn. Among a surprising quantity of excellent albums by Zoot Sims, this one really stands out.
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