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When the first of these radio broadcasts by trumpeter / guitarist Bobby Sherwood’s orchestra was recorded in December 1942, tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims (featured on Gershwin’s “The Man I Love”) had recently celebrated his seventeenth birthday, which makes his solo on that number the more remarkable. Alas, by the time of the second air–check, in January 1945, Zoot was no longer a member of the orchestra and personnel including soloists aren’t identified. This means that the album’s subtitle, 1942–45 Live Broadcasts with Zoot Sims, is rather misleading. Aside from that one prescient solo, Zoot isn’t heard from again (not on this album, that is; he’d be heard from often in other contexts, earning legendary stature as one of Woody Herman’s original “Four Brothers” and later becoming one of the most consistently brilliant tenor soloists in the annals of modern Jazz). There are other soloists (including Sherwood on trumpet, guitar and vocals) but none is identified, nor is there a roster of personnel (we are told in the brief liner notes that Zoot’s immediate successors in the tenor chair were Dave Pell and Herbie Haymer). Two of the five sessions (January 18 and November 26, 1945) are taken from “Spotlight Bands” presentations for Armed Services personnel during World War II; the others are live broadcasts from the Glen Island Casino (December 5, 1942), Newark, New Jersey’s Terrace Room (February 18, 1945) and Casino Gardens in Ocean Park, CA (with no date given). The last opens with Bobby’s theme song, “Sherwood’s Forest,” and includes “Suddenly It’s Swing” and the ballad “All Too Soon” (with trombone solo by Zoot’s older brother, Ray Sims). Sound quality, as one would expect from mid–’40s radio broadcasts preserved on acetate, is dreadful by today’s standards (as are the announcers’ starchy introductions), and the disc’s 47:47 playing time is well below par. Unless one is a swing–band completist, there’s not much point in considering this aside from that one brief appearance by the incomparable John Haley Sims, still wet behind the ears but showing even then flashes of the tenor prodigy he would soon become.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.