John Haley "Zoot" Sims (October 29, 1925 - March 23, 1985) was a Jewish American jazz saxophonist, playing mainly tenor and soprano.[1]


Sims was born in Inglewood, California. Growing up in a vaudeville family, Sims learned to play both drums and clarinet at an early age. His father was a vaudeville hoofer, and Sims prided himself on remembering many of the steps his father taught him.

Following in the footsteps of Lester Young, Sims developed into an innovative tenor saxophonist. Throughout his career, he played with renowned bands, including Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton, and Buddy Rich. Sims was also one of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers", and he was known among his peers as one of the strongest swingers in the field. He frequently led his own combos and sometimes toured with his friend Gerry Mulligan's sextet, and later with Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band.

In the 1950s and '60s, Sims had a long, successful partnership as co-leader of a quintet with Al Cohn, which recorded under the name "Al and Zoot". That group was a favorite at the New York club The Half Note. Always fond of the higher register of the tenor sax, Zoot also liked to play alto and late in his career added the soprano saxophone to his performances, while recording a series of albums for the Pablo Records label of impresario Norman Granz. Zoot also played on some of Jack Kerouac's recordings.

Sims acquired the nickname — Zoot — early in his career while he was in the Kenny Baker band in California. The name was later appropriated for a sax-playing Muppet.

Zoot Sims died in New York on March 23, 1985.


  • Stan Getz, Al Cohn, The Brothers (1949) Prestige Records
  • Zoot (1956) with Johnny Williams, Nick Travis (trumpet), Gus Johnson and Nabil Totah. Compositions by George Handy
  • Tenor Conclave (1956) with Hank Mobley, Al Cohn, John Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor
  • Goes To Jazzville (1956) with Totah, Williams, Bill Anthony, Jerome Lloyd, and Gus Johnson
  • Zoot Sims and The Joe Castro Trio Live at Falcon Lair (1956)
  • That Old Feeling is a double-issue CD of two 1956 albums, one including "Bohemia After Dark", Sims' first recorded alto solo, and Zoot Sims plays Alto, Tenor, and Baritone
  • Zoot Sims/Al Cohn - Hoagy Carmichael Sessions and More (1957) recorded in New York, Sims plays tenor and Cohn, baritone with Nick Travis, trombonist Jimmy Cleveland, pianist Elliot Lawrence, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Osie Johnson. Arrangements by Bill Elton
  • Together Again! (1957) with Al Cohn, Herbie Steward, Serge Chaloff, Elliot Lawrence, Burgher Jones and Don Lamond
  • A Night at the Half Note (1959) with Al Cohn, Mose Allison, Paul Motian, Nabil Totah, and Phil Woods
  • Either Way (1959-60) with Cecil Colier, Bill Crow, Gus Johnson, and Mose Allison
  • The double-CD Al Cohn with Zoot Sims Complete Original Quintet/Sextet Studio Recordings contains:
    • their first quintet/sextet collaboration from 1952
    • From A To Z (1956)
    • Al And Zoot (1957)
    • You 'N' Me (1960) with Allison, Major Holley, and Osie Johnson. Cohn and Sims play clarinet on "Angel Eyes" and tenor on most tracks
  • Down Home (1960) with Dave McKenna, George Tucker, and Dannie Richmond
  • At the Half Note Again (1965) with Cohn, pianist Roger Kellaway, bassist Bill Crow, drummer Mel Lewis. On some tracks there is a third tenor player Richie Kamuca and a different rhythm section (pianist Dave Frishberg, bassist Tommy Potter and Lewis
  • Bossa Nova Session (1962) with Jimm Hall
  • Al Cohn & Zoot Sims - Easy As Pie - live at the Left Bank Jazz Society night at the Famous Ballroom in Baltimore, 1968. Rhythm section is Dave Frishberg, Victor Sproles on bass and Donald McDonald on drums
  • Zoot Sims/Al Cohn - Body and Soul (1973) with Jaki Byard on Piano, George Duvivier on Bass and Mel Lewis on Drums.
  • Zoot Suite (1973) - live with Jimmy Rowles, George Mraz(bass) and Mousey Alexander
  • Joe Venuti/Zoot Sims - Joe & Zoot & More (1973) with Spencer Clark on bass saxophone, Milt Hinton and Bucky Pizzarelli
  • Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers (1975) with pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, George Mraz and Grady Tate (drums)
  • Count Basie/Zoot Sims Basie and Zoot (1975) quartet with bassist John Heard and drummer Louie Bellson. A bluesy set.
  • Soprano Sax (1976) with Ray Bryant, George Mraz, and Grady Tate
  • Somebody Loves Me, a re-issue of tracks cut in the mid-1970s for the Groove Merchant label, featuring Sims on tenor and soprano with Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Milt Hinton (bass), and Buddy Rich (drums). Some of this was released at the time as the album Nirvana. Reissued by Pilz Records (USA) on CD as Send in the Clowns
  • If I'm Lucky (1977) with pianist Jimmy Rowles, George Mraz and Mousey Alexander. Released on Norman Granz's Pablo Records
  • For Lady Day (1978) Sims, Rowles and Mraz, performing some of Billie Holiday's favourite numbers. Jackie Williams on drums
  • Zoot Sims and Sweets Edison - Just Friends (1978). Released on Norman Granz' Pablo Records
  • Zoot Sims in Copenhagen (1978)
  • Art Pepper/Zoot Sims - Art 'n' Zoot (1981) - with bassist Ray Brown and guitarist Barney Kessell
  • Zoot Sims with Joe Pass - Blues For Two (1982)
  • Suddenly It's Spring - (1983) with Rowles, Mraz and Akira Tana
  • Quietly There (1984) Zoot Sims plays Johnny Mandel compositions with Mike Wofford piano, Chuck Berghofer bass, Nick Ceroli drums, and Victor Feldman percussion, his penultimate recording


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Zoot Sims. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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