Zoot Sims/Al Cohn/ Tony Scott: East Coast Sounds
Ah, the circumstances that made dates like this possible. Trigger Alpert was a good walking bass of the old school; he played with Mundell Lowe and the folk singer Bob Gibson. He proposed a pianoless date with a lot of swinging, and set out looking for horns. He found them, all right: one look at the cast will make your mouth water – and he also got charts by Marty Paich and Dick Hyman. The sound is tight, and while the tunes are too short (you almost hear a stopwatch bearing down) there's’ time enough for great solos, charging riffs, and good times.
The program is filled with underplayed standards; “I Like the Likes of You” is probably the best known. Most of the tunes set up one voice against a wall of harmony: on “Treat Me Rough” it’s Zoot, his soft surge meeting an eager rush of horns. Scott races to the top of the scale; Cohn and ‘bone hit bottom for a nice finish. “Looking at You” has a simpler touch: Scott rides the horns on the theme, Cohn stands alone as he makes a rollicking honk. There’s a bit by Joe Wilder, and a “Four Brothers” chorus by saxophones and Urbie Green. It’s the first highlight, and there are many.
Even with all these names, the star is the band. Paich usually writes the horns as a block, getting big band power from a mid-size group. Scott takes charge on these soaring high over the brass wail. Hyman’s charts are angular and modern, contrasting the horns with traded lines. Ed Shaughnessy sounds like Shelly Manne on “Tranquilizer”; Scott Green play together on “Where’s That Rainbow?”, with rich results. Scott wrote a couple: the riffer “Trigger Happy” is a must, and its descending theme sounds like cartoon music. The sounds change as often as the soloists do, thanks to good arranging – and better playing.
Because of the format, the solos tend to be short, but the best are sweet indeed. “I Like the Likes” is full of them: Zoot’s gentility leads to a muted Wilder; Green booms warm in his tiny spot. Scott is almost a flute on “I Wish I Were in Love Again”; the same tune has a killer ensemble you’ll wish were played more. Cohn lights a fire on “I Don’t Want to Be Alone”; so deep and so tender. Check out Scott’s breathy solo. Alpert has the theme on his “Trigger Fantasy”; such a round bounce is rare indeed. We also hear Zoot on alto; he’s more intense than his tenor solos. The response is instant, and it sounds like a working group (I wish it was.) While I wanted more blowing room, the music we do get is worth your time. When it comes to this date, Trigger was on target!