Top Artists – Zoot Sims

Passion Flower Is Clearly Better Than For Duke

Hot Stamper Pressings of Pablo Recordings

More Reviews and Commentaries for Our Favorite Pablo Recordings

This is one of the all time great Pablo sleepers.

Why is no one else writing about records like these? The music is wonderful and the sound is top drawer on the best copies. If you’ve tried and failed with other Pablo Zoot Sims records, fear not: this title is one of the best we have ever played, musically and sonically.

The ensemble is huge, probably at least a dozen pieces at any given time, and all that energy is captured on the best copies with tremendous engineering skill. The lively arrangements are by none other than Benny Carter, a man who knows his jazz. His career started in the ’20s(!) and lasted into this century if you can believe it. I consider myself fortunate to have seen him play locally when he was more than 90 years old. He stlll had it, kind of.

What to Listen For

Clarity and transients.

Thickness and fatness were common problems with Passion Flower — many copies were overly rich and somewhat opaque. It’s not necessarily a bad sound, but it becomes more and more irritating as you find yourself struggling to hear into the musical space of the studio. Smear is a problem too; many copies were lacking the transient information of the best.

In a nutshell, our Hot Stamper pressings are the most transparent copies that are tonally correct, with the least amount of smear.

forduke

Better Sound than a Direct Disc?

Musically Passion Flower is everything that For Duke isn’t, and although it may not be a Direct to Disc recording, it sure sounds better to these ears than that pricey TAS List Super Disc. The insufferably dead room For Duke was recorded in has forever ruined the album for me. I can’t stand that sound (which helps explain our aversion to Heavy Vinyl around these parts — the sound of the new remasters is consistently lacking in space, ambience and three-dimensionality).

Passion Flower was engineered by Bob Simpson at the RCA recording studios in NY, and Dennis Sands in Hollywood. These guys know a lot more about recording a large jazz ensemble than a couple of audiophiles who owned a stereo store and could record in their showroom at night and on the weekends.

Experience is surely a great teacher in this regard.

Incidentally, Dennis Sands is the engineer for one of the All Time Great Basie recordings on Pablo, Farmers Market Barbecue.


FURTHER READING

Bob Simpson Engineered Albums with Hot Stampers

Bob Simpson Engineered Albums We’ve Reviewed

Dennis Sands Engineered Albums We’ve Reviewed

Zoot Sims / “Quietly There” – Zoot Sims Plays Johnny Mandel

More Zoot Sims

A Top Pablo Recording

  • This KILLER Pablo LP, engineered by the brilliant Allen Sides, has killer sound from start to finish – which is to be expected from this amazing engineer, responsible for recordings like 88 Basie Street
  • The overall impression one gets of this recording is BIG – big stage and full size instruments
  • This is Cinerama sound, wall to wall and floor to ceiling
  • The recording is so transparent you can clearly hear the contribution his reed makes to his sound
  • 4 stars: “… Norman Granz’s idea to match Zoot Sims’ lyrical, swinging tenor sax with Johnny Mandel’s equally arresting compositions was a masterful one. Sims’ tart, alternately lush and furious solos were wonderfully spotlighted on such tunes as “Cinnamon and Cloves,” “Emily” and “Zoot.”

This is one of the best Zoot Sims records. He plays beautifully. This melodic, smooth material is what he excels at. His breathy saxophone style will remind you of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster. This recording captures that sound perfectly.

The other Must-Own Zoot Sims record is Passion Flower, also on Pablo. If you see one, grab it. Amazing audiophile quality sound.

Note the length of the tunes on this album. The first side has two 7+ minute long explorations and on side two 2 songs clock in at 6 minutes and the ballad Emily at more than 9 minutes. Cinnamon & Cloves is probably my favorite track on the album. Zoot plays samba as well as Stan Getz — he’s just not as famous for it.

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Harry Edison – ’S Wonderful

This date features a couple of my personal favorite all-stars: Shelly Manne and Zoot Sims. Together with Edison they whip up quite a storm, ably supported by Monty Budwig on bass and Mike Wofford on piano.  

AMG  Review

This out-of-print Pablo LP (which will certainly be reissued on CD in the future) is from the later days of the label. Trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison was just beginning to fade around this period but he still sounds in fine form, teamed up wtih Zoot Sims (who plays tenor on three and soprano on one of the six selections), pianist Mike Wofford, bassist Monty Budwig and drummer Shelly Manne. They perform the leader’s “Elegante” plus five standards with the highlights including “Centerpiece” (Sweets’ famous blues line) and “Sunday.” Fine swinging mainstream jazz.

Zoot Sims / Passion Flower – Our Shootout Winner from 2014

More Zoot Sims

More Pablo Jazz

One of the all time great Pablo sleepers. Why is no one else writing about records like these? The music is wonderful and the sound is top drawer on the best copies. If you’ve tried and failed with other Pablo Zoot Sims records, fear not: this title is one of his best, musically and sonically. 

If you want to hear the Duke’s music swing in top sound, get this album.

This is a big group, probably at least a dozen pieces at any given time, and all that energy is captured on the best copies with tremendous engineering skill. The lively arrangements are by none other than Benny Carter, a man who knows his jazz. His career started in the ’20s(!) and lasted into this century if you can believe it. I consider myself fortunate to have seen him play locally when he was more than 90 years old. He stlll had it, kind of. (more…)

Gerry Mulligan – And His Concert Jazz Band On Tour

White Hot on side two, nearly White on side one, this live album is crazy good sounding on this copy. Huge space, size and clarity, with Tubey Magical richness befitting its 1960 recording dates. On the second track of side two the swingin’ Zoot Sims is as immediate and real as any sax player can be. 

Even though this is an All Tube Vintage Jazz recording, some copies tended to get a bit dry and midrangy. Some of this no doubt has to do with the different venues the songs were recorded in.

The sound is not particularly wide — some of it sounds almost mono — but it is tall and deep, and certainly more than spacious enough. (more…)