Q. What does Zoot sound like on alto?
A. He sounds like Zoot on alto.Zoot would sound like Zoot if he played the didgeridoo! He was one of a kind. Swing was as natural to him as breath. As Joe Castro said, "playing with him was like floating on air." Zoot started on clarinet, was best known for his tenor and became an individualist on soprano. For a short time in the fifties, and only then, he took up the alto and made good use of it in two overdubbed records: "Zoot Sims Plays Alto, Tenor and Baritone" and " Zoot Sims Plays Four Altos."This CD finds him in 1956 in a favorite situation, jamming with a first-rate rhythm section in an intimate setting. Pianist Castro taped the session. Known as a bopper, he may remind you of Basie ( when the Count was playing more notes ). Leroy Vinnegar walks the bass line while Roy Jefferson keeps the pot boiling on drums. Now you may not consider Doris Duke's estate, "Falcon Lair," in Beverly Hills to be intimate but how about "The Playhouse" above her three-car garage, a setting for many Castro jam sessions? Actually, Castro and Duke were intimate, but that's another story. This session covers bop, ballads and blues. Castro contributes two swinging blues numbers and the riff tune, "Swinging With Rudolph" while the standards appear to be Zoot's picks. His "East of the Sun" had appeared earlier on one of the first ever jazz LPs and "Pennies From Heaven" eventually became a soprano feature. A fifties' Doris Day movie had revived "I'll See You In My Dreams." Dizzy's "A Night in Tunisia" represents a rare Sims foray into Bird's realm. "It's Always You," associated with Tommy Dorsey and Sinatra, illustrates what Sims and Castro had in common: respect for the melody, relaxed rather than intense swing -but swing! No question about that. Incidentally there's a mellow pizzicato solo by Vinnegar on that track.Another previously unreleased gem from Fantasy Jazz. The jazz world should be grateful to Joe Castro for bringing his Ampex to the session.