Harry Allen in Zoot and Al Tribute on Riverwalk Jazz This Week
Beginning today, public radio's Riverwalk Jazz begins streaming Zoot & Al: The Brotherhood of Prez." Featured on the program are Ron Hockett, the regular reedman in the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, and Harry Allen.
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The late Gene Lees wrote: Stan Getz was once asked his idea of the perfect tenor saxophone soloist. His answer was, 'My technique, Al Cohn's ideas, and Zoot's time.' The fulfillment of that ideal may well be embodied in thirty-year-old Harry Allen."
Other members of the ensemble include John Sheridan, piano; Howard Elkins, guitar; Don Mopsick, bass; and Kevin Dorn, drums.
Tenor saxophonists Zoot Sims and Al Cohn were both 22 when they met in a Salt Lake City parking lot one night before a gig in January 1948. That night Al joined Woody Herman's Second Herd, known as the Four Brothers" band, and launched a friendship and musical collaboration with Zoot Sims that would last a lifetime.
Zoot and Al, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, and Paul Desmond were jazz saxophonists who came of age in the post-World War II era. They shared a common jazz language: the light, airy approach of Count Basie tenor sax legend, Lester Prez" Young. Zoot said later, We were all young and had the same ideas. I'd always worried about what the other guys were thinking in all the bands I'd been in, and in Woody's band I found out: they were thinking the same thing I was."
To this day, when jazz musicians gather to swap favorite stories about their heroes, Zoot and Al are frequently remembered for their wit. Here is one example. Al Cohn was touring Europe, when one of the fans tried to get him to try the local beer, called Elephant Beer. Al said, Elephant Beer? No thanks, I drink to forget!"
For more on this show, read the weekly JazzNotes here.