Artist picture of Zoot Sims

Zoot Sims

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For You Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry 09:44
Too Close For Comfort Jutta Hipp, Zoot Sims 06:52
Four Brothers Zoot Sims, Al Cohn 03:52
Violets For Your Furs Jutta Hipp, Zoot Sims 06:09
I Never Knew (That Roses Grew) Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry 08:02
Oh, Lady, Be Good! Zoot Sims, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, George Mraz 04:37
Crime a River Al Cohn & Zoot Sims 03:12
Funkallero Bill Evans, Zoot Sims, Jim Hall, Ron Carter 06:13
If I Had You Benny Carter, Roy Eldridge, Zoot Sims, Clark Terry 12:14
There Came You Bill Evans, Zoot Sims, Jim Hall, Ron Carter 05:52

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One of the leading tenor saxophonists of his time, John Haley “Zoot” Sims belonged to nearly every crucial big band orchestra at one point or another, epitomized the smooth sound of his instrument, and would be immortalized by a Muppet bearing his nickname. Born in Southern California to a performing family, Sims worked through a succession of instruments before picking up the tenor sax (and the nickname “Zoot”, for a nonsense word once written on his music stand) in the late 1930s. Proving wildly precocious, Sims played in both Bobby Sherwood’s Orchestra and Benny Goodman’s big band before he turned 20. He would later play his way into the ensembles of Artie Shaw, Buddy Rich, Stan Kenton, and Woody Herman, where he was one of the so-called “Four Brothers” of his featured saxophone section.


Sims proved a formidable asset in the recording studio, as well, cutting LPs for Bob Weinstock’s lauded Prestige Records, along with Blue Note and Pablo Records. His early releases featured his smooth, swinging style, and sometimes featured Sims alongside his Brothers from Herman’s band. He also began frequently collaborating with tenor saxophonist Al Cohn, a musical partnership that would span their lifetimes. A recording with German pianist Jutta Hipp for Blue Note earned particular acclaim, and arrived during a moment of peak creativity for Sims in the mid ‘50s, along with the albums Morning Fun, Tonite’s Music Today, a reunion of the Four Brothers, and Jazz Alive: A Night at the Half Note, a live set featuring Sims, Cohn, and alto sax player Phil Woods. 


Over the years, Sims expanded his repertoire into the worlds of alto and soprano saxophone, and continued to release excellent records well into the 1980s, including collaborations with Count Basie, Art Pepper, and Harry “Sweets” Edison, until his death in 1985 at the age of 59. But he did live long enough to see the creation of Zoot, the Muppet saxophone player for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. The hip green puppet bore Sims’ nickname, but not his likeness, which was inspired by Argentine musician Gato Barbieri.