2002 CD reissue.
At first glance, Philadelphia violinist Joe Venuti and Los Angeles tenor/soprano saxophonist Zoot Sims might seem an unlikely combination. Venuti was known for swing, classic jazz, and Dixieland, whereas Sims (who was young enough to be Venuti's son) was primarily a cool/bop musician along the lines of Stan Getz, Al Cohn, and Paul Quinichette. But when you think about it, the combination makes perfect sense. Before Sims made bop changes his main focus in the mid-'40s, he played in swing bands - and Sims (like Getz, Cohn, and Quinichette) was heavily influenced by the seminal Lester Young. So all things considered, it makes perfect sense for Venuti and Sims to join forces on Joe and Zoot and More (which was recorded in 1973 and 1974).
Stepping outside of cool jazz and bop, Sims enthusiastically joins Venuti in a classic jazz/swing setting. The performances generally recall the early '30s, and Venuti and Sims enjoy an undeniably strong rapport on inspired versions of "I Found a New Baby," "Indiana," and other familiar standards. As gutsy and hard-swinging as the up-tempo performances are, Venuti and Sims are unapologetically sentimental on ballads like "There's a Small Hotel" and "My One and Only Love."
Some bop snobs might think the ballads are too sentimental - in bop, ballad playing has often tended to be less sentimental and more intellectual than the swing and classic jazz ballad playing of the '30s. (Lyrical, romantic, and pretty don't necessarily mean ultra-sentimental.) But truth be told, there is nothing wrong with jazz instrumentalists being sentimental - it certainly worked well for Bunny Berigan, Chu Berry, Artie Shaw, and countless others who emerged in jazz's pre-bop era. Joe and Zoot and More is an excellent CD that Venuti fans and Sims admirers should both make a point of obtaining
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