Al Cohn & Zoot Sims: Body and Soul
This 1973 date, just reissued with fancy new packaging by 32 Jazz, is a thoroughly enjoyable, low-key blowing session featuring the two tenor titans backed by an excellent veteran rhythm section of Jaki Byard, George Duvivier, and Mel Lewis. Both Cohn and Sims are supremely smooth and effortlessly swinging tenor players in the Lester Young mode, and they complement each other perfectly here. Longtime friends and colleagues, dating back to their days as part of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers" saxophone section in the late 1940s, Cohn and Sims display that rare musical affinity that only years of playing together can breed.
While most of the album is played at a fairly relaxed pace, the two tenor players get things off to a rousing start with "Doodle Oodle," a burner in which they challenge each other with increasingly acrobatic solos, recalling the great tenor battles of Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons. Unlike some other double tenor lineups, which focus almost exclusively on this type of high-energy competitive workout, Cohn and Sims do not neglect ballads. Their version of the title song, for all its familiarity, is stirring and an album highlight, as is a haunting rendition of Johnny Mercer's "Emily." They also pay homage to fellow Herman alumnus Stan Getz with a lovely Brazilian medley including "Girl From Ipanema" and "One Note Samba." Jaki Byard's contribution on piano is especially noteworthy, as he brings some nice avant-garde touches to a mostly straight-ahead session.