SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Zoot Sims – Lost Tapes: Baden-Baden – June 23, 1958 – Jazz Haus (either CD or LP)

Zoot meets European jazz royalty in a swinging jam session…

Published on November 28, 2012

Zoot Sims – Lost Tapes: Baden-Baden – June 23, 1958 – Jazz Haus (either CD or LP)

Zoot Sims – Lost Tapes: Baden-Baden – June 23, 1958 – Jazz Haus 101 710 (CD) or 101 715 180gm mono LP, 55:19 [Distr. by Naxos] ****½:

(Zoot Sims, alto sax, tenor sax, and clarinet; Hans Koller, alto sax, tenor sax, and clarinet; Willie Dennis, trombone (#5, 9, 10, 11); Adi Feuerstein, flute (#5, 6); Gerd Husemann, flute (#5, 6); Helmut Brandt, flute, baritone sax (#5, 7, 11); Hans Hammerschmid, piano; Peter Trunk, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums)

American jazz stars relocating to Europe to reside goes back at least to the 1940s. For some it was to escape racism in the United States (mostly in the South), and for others it was for economic reasons as jazz has long had fallow periods when it was difficult to make a living. Jazz was honored in Western Europe, and well-known American artists were treated like royalty.

To my knowledge, Zoot Sims never formally lived in Europe. However, like many jazz musicians of the day, he toured with large bands in Europe, and while there had the opportunity to play and record with local talent. Zoot had played with Benny Goodman’s band in Brussels in 1958. While there he met Hans Koller, who was one of the most well known and respected tenor saxophonists on the continent. The two hit it off, and Zoot was invited to record with Koller in a studio concert to be supplemented by other horn men in a jazz jam style session. Along with the European musicians, American master drummer Kenny Clarke, (who had made a permanent move to Europe), and trombonist Willie Dennis, were added.

Each of the eleven tracks recorded that day have a different line-up. Sims and Koller play on six tracks together, and both get a chance to play clarinet (“Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets). “Blue Night” even features all six horns in ensemble setting. On “Open Door” we even get a chance to hear Sims, more known as a prime swing player, tackle bop. Zoot sits out on three tracks, where Koller is the primary instrumentalist on “Fallin in Love,” and Helmut Brandt, on baritone sax, channels Gerry Mulligan on “I Surrender Dear.”

A special treat is provided by label Jazz Haus, as they have issued Lost Tapes, both in an excellent CD issue, as well as an audiophile 180 gm LP. It is unfortunate that the LP had to leave out three tracks found on the CD: “Alan’s Alley,“ “These Foolish Things,“ and “Trottin.” Unfortunately, the free digital download coupon provided with the LP does not include these three missing songs…

The June 23, 1958 date opens with “All the Things You Are,” and Zoot and Koller make a sympathetic pairing as they both have a “cool” sound. The LPs acoustics are warm  and inviting, especially for a live studio recording that is over five decades old. “Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets” is beyond special – swinging, sentimental, and a joy to hear in superb mono acoustics on LP as Zoot and Hans blend their serpentine lines as two cobras intertwining.

On “Blue Night” written by pianist Hammerschmid, all the horns enter the fray and we get a taste of a live big band evening. The two flutes of Adi Feuerstein and Gerd Husemann are added on “Open Door.” Kenny Clarke’s drum solo is a highlight on this tune. Zoot sits out on “I’ll Remember April” as Koller and Willie Dennis are more than up to the task. Whether it’s the full CD with all eleven tracks, or the audiophile eight on the LP issue, The Lost Tapes is a found treasure.

TrackList:
CD: All The Things You Are, Alan’s Alley, Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets, Fallin’ in Love, Blue Night, Open Door, I Surrender Dear, Tangerine, These Foolish Things, I’ll Remember April, Trottin’

LP: Side A: All The Things You Are, Minor Meeting for Two Clarinets, Blue Night, Open Door
Side B: Fallin’ in Love, I Surrender Dear, Tangerine, I’ll Remember April

—Jeff Krow




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