Sims, Zoot (John Haley)

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Sims, Zoot (John Haley)

Sims, Zoot (Johlt Haley), noted jazz tenor saxophonist, leader; b. Inglewood, Calif., Oct. 29, 1925; d. N.Y., March 23, 1985. He made his debut in 1941 and played with various “name” bands, including Benny Goodman’s, until he was drafted. He briefly rejoined Goodman, but made his mark with Woody Herman, where he was one of the “four brothers” sax team in the Woody Herman Band (1947–49). While in Herman’s band, he struck up a lifetime friendship with Al Cohn; the two worked together until Sims’s death. In the late 1950s, Sims often backed beat novelist Jack Kerouac, who was a big fan of Sims’s playing. He toured frequently with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and was often hired by Goodman for various gigs, including the tour of the Soviet Union (1962). In addition, he freelanced in clubs and recorded in a variety of settings. He later also played some soprano sax. From the 1960s through his death from cancer, he led his own small groups on record in clubs, and on tour. His brother, Ray C. (b. Wichita, Kans., Jan. 18, 1921), was a trombonist who played for long periods with Harry James (1947–57 and 1957–69) as well as playing and singing with Zoot’s early 1970s quintet.


Trotting (1950); Quartets (1950); First Recordings! (1950); Zoot! (1956); Z. S. Plays Alto, Tenor, and Baritone (1956); Tonite’s Music Today (1956); Plays Four Altos (1957); Four Brothers: Together Again (1957); Jazz Alive: A Night at the Half Note (1959); Live at Ronnie Scott’s (1961); Two Jims and a Zoot (1964); Waiting Game (1966); Nirvana (1974); and the Gershwin Bros.(1975); Nights (1976); Zoots Plays Soprano (1976). Jimmy Rowles: If I’m Lucky (1977); Warm Tenor (1978). Harry “Sweets Edison: ]ust Friends (1978). For Lady Day (1978); Swinger (1979); Passion Flower (1979); Blues for Two (1982); On the Körner (ree. 1983; rei. 1994); Quietly There: Z. S. Plays Johnny Mandel (1984); Basie and Zoot (1985).


A. Astrup, John Haley Sims (Zoot Sims) Discography (Lyngby, Denmark, 1980).

—Lewis Porter