Soul Nourishment by Two Super Servers
John F. Temmerman | Skokie, Il United States | 01/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My latest cd acquisition is "Easy As Pie" by Al Cohn and Zoot Sims. This was issued last year on LabelM, a division of PDSE records. I first heard about it as an previously unissued live recording from 1968. Label M had acquired the rights to issue recordings of live performances from the Left Bank Jazz Society in Baltimore, MD. My title is a quote from the liner notes by Ira Gitler. I enjoy and respect for all sorts of music. However, jazz saxophone, playing and listening, is what makes my heart sing. It's here on this CD. From the outset, it's clear that this is going to be a special recording. The opener is the ending of the piece, Tickle Toe, by Lester Young, by whom each player was influenced. The players swing hard on a variety of pieces at a variety of tempos and feels. Sims is the lone soloist on the last two pieces. Sims and Cohn met as members of the Woody Herman "Four Brothers" band in the late 40's. They developed a lifelong friendship and collaborated frequently. As one of the most recorded tenor duos in jazz history, these men were very familiar with each other musically. Their familiarity and friendship shows up in constructing solo lines and swapping musical quotes as they "trade fours" during solos and play in perfect unison or harmony during the melodies. You can
hear their respect for each other and joy in playing in every note. The rhythm section includes Dave Frishberg (later known as a great composer and lyricist ("Peel Me A Grape", "My Attorney, Bernie"), Victor Sproles on bass and Donald McDonald on drums. They provide strong support throughout. Also supporting is a vibrant, appreciative crowd, who audibly spurs them on. The cuts all feature great tenor playing. For me, the highlight is Sims' version of Willow Weep For Me during the ballad medley. This has to be among his best tenor solos ever - certainly in my collection with dozens of Sims albums, it's one of maybe 3 penultimate tenor solos that come to mind. Just as background, Sims enjoyed a longer and more productive recording career, Cohn devoting more time to arranging than performing later in his career. Among musicians, though, Cohn is regarded as a master, as is Sims. The tenor duo also includes a special place in jazz history. These two, along with Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons were the most prolifically recorded duos. There are just a few cons: First, the beginning of Tickle Toe is omitted, as is the ending of Recado Bossa Nova. These clearly could have been included. The only other gripe is that there are occasional sound quality problems as the players move back and forth from the mike. Those occasional moments do not detract from the overall enjoyment of this CD. Five Stars. Great Stuff!"
This Evening Rocks!
C Kane | Irvine, CA United States | 03/23/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one, swingin' night in Baltimore 1968, at the Famous Ballroom, before a live audience filled with members of the Left Bank Jazz Society. The atmosphere is electric, reminding me of how exciting it is to hear live music in a small club. No one's sitting still at their tables here. Zoot Sims and Al Cohn make gorgeous music together, exchanging solos and playing duets, and backed by an excellent rhythm section -- and a piano that definitely belongs to the joint (and not the pianist)!There are some terrific ballads here too -- particularly "Willow Weep for Me," played by Sims, which practically becomes a religious experience for some audience members. "Recado Bossa Nova" is the swingin'-est bossa nova tune I've heard in years -- Sims sounds like a jumpin' Stan Getz here.My only qualm with the entire recording is that it fades in and fades out at the top and bottom, perhaps due to the fact that this is part of a private tape collection that producer Joel Dorn spent years to obtain from the Left Bank Jazz Society.I'm sorry I missed this evening back in 1968 -- but hearing this CD almost transports me back. Grab it."