Dueling Sax Masters
G. N. Smith | Annapolis, MD | 03/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1978, I was about 13 years old and was just becoming interested in jazz. I had been playing the flute for about 5 years and had convinced my parents to let me take up playing the sax. I was desperate to get jazz albums featuring great sax players and that year one of my uncles, an audiophile and jazz lover himself, gave me a copy of the American release of Interaction with Sonny Stitt & Zoot Sims. The 1976 American version of Interaction was a double album released by Chess records and was a collection of recordings made by Stitt and Sims that had been released previously during the 1950's and 1960's. Most of the tracks on the American release did not feature Stitt and Sims playing together, but were great recordings made by each artists with their own groups and were presented as a compilation along with sessions recorded in 1965 featuring the two sax masters playing together. I fell in love with this album; it's what got me interested in jazz.
I still have my vinyl copy of Interaction and it's one of the reasons I still have my old turntable hooked up to my stereo. But after nearly 30 years of playing, my old vinyl copy of Interaction has seen better days and I was anxious to find it on CD. When I spotted a Japanese import version of Interaction on CD, I couldn't resist buying it- even though it came at a hefty $40 price tag.
Sadly, the Japanese release of Interaction contains only a handful of the tracks found on the 1976 American double album. Missing from the Japanese release are 920 Special, The Man I Love, 55th & State, Blue Room, Bohemia After Dark, Gus Blues, That Old Feeling, Woody'n You, It's Hipper Than That, How High the Moon, Ko Ko, A-Minor Sax, Lover Man, Reed & A Half, I'll Tell You Later, Look For the Silver Lining, and Easy Living. These were all the tracks recorded individually by Stitt & Sims with their respective groups- they don't feature the two musicians playing together.
The Japanese release features the tracks Stitt and Sims recorded together in 1965 and the interaction between these two great sax players is wholly satisfying great jazz with a swinging bop feel. Stitt & Sims had multiple influences and you can hear the impact of Lester Young and Charlie Parker in their music. Dan Nooger wrote the original liner notes for the 1976 American release of Interaction and noted that 1965 collaboration between Stitt & Sims arose from a chance booking at a Chicago nightclub. Zoot Sims and the John Young Trio were scheduled on the bill and Stitt was added at the last minute after having returned from a European tour. The rapport between Stitt and Sims was immediate and after playing together for two weeks on stage, Stitt and Simms headed to the studio to record these tracks with the John Young Trio. It's great to have them on CD and loaded on my I-Pod."