Zoot Sims

Zoot Sims Plays Tenor & 4 Altos (Zoot!/Zoot Sims Plays 4 Altos)

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In 2007, as if to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its creation, the Fresh Sound label reissued Zoot Sims Plays 4 Altos. This album, masterminded by pianist, composer, and arranger George Handy, was recorded for ABC Paramount on January 11, 1957. It may now be enjoyed on the same disc with Zoot!, which was recorded for Riverside on December 13 and 18, 1956. Sims, an accomplished tenor saxophonist whose main influence was Lester Young, sounded a bit like Art Pepper when handling the alto sax. Throughout both albums he willingly submitted to the ideas of George Handy, whose talents were developed while working with bandleader Boyd Raeburn. All but three of the 14 tunes on this compilation were conceived and composed by Handy. Tracks eight through 14 feature four Zoots at once, or more specifically one Zoot in front backed by three overdubbed Zoots, deftly and dutifully following orchestrations scored by Handy. This experiment prefigured (and probably inspired) Pete Rugolo's multiple-instrument concept albums of 1960-1961. As a duple reissue, Fresh Sound's Zoot Sims Plays Tenor & 4 Altos works well as a double portrait of an ambitious composer/arranger and a skilled saxophonist who stayed cool as a cuke even when thrice cloned and pitted against himself.

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