Joe Venuti/Zoot Sims: Joe & Zoot & More (2002)
One of the more satisfying experiences in jazz is when some long forgotten (except by a few) gems have been unearthed, dusted off and reissued (or issued for the first time0. This CD seems to be a mixture of two - first time issued and reissued sessions coming from the 1970's. Sims and Venuti collaborated for the Chiaroscuro label in 1975. But the first nine cuts on this set are from a September 27, 1973 recording which has been cleaned and digitally remastered. Venuti was in his seventies and Sims in his fifties when this album was recorded and both are at the top of their game. Not only do we get to hear Sims' tenor at its most personal and eloquent (listen to his back and forth with Venuti on "It's the Girl"). It doesn't get more compelling than that), but we hear him on soprano sax as well. Sims was one of the very few purveyors of this difficult to play instrument who didn't make it sound whiney and actually could turn it into a romantic instrument. As for the inimitable Venuti, they must have had him (and Eddie Land) in mind when they coined the term "hot jazz". His hotness is more apparent on the last eight tracks when he joins up with the likes of Bucky Pizzarelli, Milt Hinton and Cliff Leeman, among others, for some racehorse jazz playing, such as on his own "String the Blues" with Pizzarelli who seems to have set aside the guitar for the banjo. But Venuti was no slacker at being sentimental. He drips pleasing harmonies and highly personalized legato on "There's a Small Hotel" where he rode on the pad set down for him by Sims.
Kudos to Chiaroscuro for the foresight to bring these two masters together in the 1970's and not forget about the sessions. Then to reissue with some other prime Venuti is must be what jazz heaven is like.
Track Listing: I Found a New Baby; There's a Small Hotel; Indiana; My One and Only Love; The Wild Cat; It's the Girl; Oh, Lady Be Good; Someday Sweetheart; C Jam Blues; Blue Too; Oh, Lady Be Good; Dinah; Tea for Three; Diga Diga Do; I'll Never Be the Same; String the Blues; The Blue Room
Personnel: Joe Venuti- Violin; Zoot Sims - Tenor & Soprano Sax; Dick Wellstood - Piano; George Duvivier, Milt Hinton - Bass; Cliff Leeman - Drums; Bucky Pizzarelli - Guitar; Spencer Clark - Bass Saxophone; Dill Jones - Piano