Saturday, September 20, 2008

When Zoot Walks In

Learn to work the saxophone,
And I play just what I feel,

Drink Scotch Whiskey all night long,

and Die Behind the Wheel.

Those lines, from Steely Dan’s marvelous Deacon’s Blues, always remind me of Zoot Sims. Zoot didn’t die behind the wheel, but from liver cancer, which is still about the whiskey. One of the first jazz albums I purchased was Warm Tenor. It was my first encounter with a single tenor singing with a good rhythm section behind him. Jimmy Rowles played piano, George Mraz was on bass, and Mousie Alexander on drums.

On Warm Tenor, Zoot produced a soft, fuzzy voice, that felt like crushed velvet. The weave and stretch of his playing was entirely new to me. Here was the beginning of my fascination with jazz. Try this clip, from the same album:

Zoot Sims/Jitterbug Waltz/Warm Tenor
If you like the clip, spend a few penny's on a Zoot Sims album. You can find a load of Zoot at eMusic.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to see Zoot perform along with the great blues singer Jimmy Rushing at the old Half Note jazz club in New York in 1970. Nearly 40 years later I can still remember how Zoot captivated the audience with that tone and swing of his on the tenor sax!