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Photostory3: Zoot Sims

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After Dave Pell's remarks Monday about Zoot Sims and his influence on West Coast jazz, I thought it only fitting to ask photographer Paul Slaughter to tell us what was going on when he took this fabulous image of the expressive tenor saxophonist:

“I remember this night well. The photo was taken on Sunday, September 19, 1971. I was photographing at the 14th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival. Back then, official festival photographers were few, and we were allowed terrific access to the backstage area and front of the stage.

“The concert on this particular Sunday evening was simply called, “The Jam Session." The musicians on the bill? Oscar Peterson, piano; Zoot Sims and Eddie “Lockjaw" Davis, tenor saxophones; Benny Carter, alto saxophone; Clark Terry, trumpet; Bill Harris, trombone; Louie Bellson, drums; and Ray Brown, bass. An amazing evening.

“At the concert, Zoot was dressed smartly in a suit and played especially “hot." I knew that Zoot had a habit of bending backward when he played. As a jazz photographer, I notice the little things performers do that make them unique. Then I try to capture that aspect at different moments.

“My goal that night was to capture Zoot leaning back in a particularly expressive way. So I rested my camera on the stage, which was about five feet from the ground. Then I just looked through the viewfinder and waited. When Zoot leaned back and made a face, I squeezed the shutter."

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
Copyright © 2019. All rights reserved.

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