|Birth name||James Robert Forrest Jr.|
January 24, 1920|
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||August 26, 1980
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
|Genres||Swing, Hard bop|
|Labels||United, Prestige, Delmark|
|Associated acts||Duke Ellington, Jay McShann, Andy Kirk|
Forrest is famous for his first solo recording of "Night Train". It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart in March 1952, and stayed at the top for seven weeks. "Hey Mrs. Jones" (No. 3 R&B) and "Bolo Blues" were his other major hits. All were made for United Records, which recorded Forrest between 1951 and 1953. He recorded frequently as both a sideman and a bandleader.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, Forrest played alongside Fate Marable as a young man. He was with Jay McShann in 1940-42 and with Andy Kirk from 1942 until 1948 when he joined Duke Ellington. During the early 1950s, Forrest led his own combos. He also played with Miles Davis, in early 1952 at The Barrel Club. After his solo career, he played in small combos with Harry "Sweets" Edison and Al Grey, as well as appearing with Count Basie.
Forrest performs an extended version of "Night Train" with the Basie Orchestra in the 1979 film Last of the Blue Devils.
Forrest's version of "Night Train" was the theme song of a nightly rhythm and blues radio program in the Houston, Texas market. Also called Night Train, the program was hosted by William A. "Rascal" McCaskill, and was broadcast on KREL-AM from 1954 to 1957.
In his 2000 book The Devil and Sonny Liston, author Nick Tosches noted that Forrest's music was a favorite of heavyweight boxer Sonny Liston, also from St.Louis, who would listen to "Night Train" and other Forrest music during training sessions and before fights.
- 1951: Night Train (United)
- 1952: Live at the Barrel (Prestige)
- 1959: All the Gin is Gone (Delmark Records)
- 1960: Forrest Fire (New Jazz)
- 1961: Out of the Forrest (Prestige)
- 1961: Sit Down and Relax with Jimmy Forrest (Prestige)
- 1961: Most Much! (Prestige)
- 1962: Soul Street (New Jazz)
- 1972: Black Forrest (Delmark) - with Al Grey, Peter Leitch, Charlie Rice, Don Patterson
- 1972: Heart of the Forrest (Palo Alto Records/Muse Records)
- 1980: O.D. (Out 'Dere) (Greyforrest)
With Cat Anderson
- Cat on a Hot Tin Horn (Mercury, 1958)
With Count Basie
- In Europe (LRC, 1974)
- I Told You So (Pablo, 1976)
- Montreux '77 (Pablo, 1977)
- The Swinger (Verve, 1958)
- Mr. Swing (Verve, 1958)
- Sweetenings (Roulette, 1958)
- Harry Eddison Swings Buck Clayton and Vice Versa (Verve, 1958) - with Buck Clayton
- Patented by Edison (Roulette, 1960)
With Bennie Green
- Swings The Blues (Enrica, 1959)
- Bennie Green (Time, 1960)
- Hornful of Soul (Bethlehem, 1960)
With Al Grey
- Al Grey featuring Arnett Cobb and Jimmy Forrest (Black & Blue, 1975)
- Grey's Mood (Black & Blue, 1975)
- Struttin' and Shoutin' (Columbia, 1976)
With Jo Jones
- Jo Jones Sextet (Everest, 1960)
With Jack McDuff
With Blue Mitchell
- Blue Mitchell (Mainstream, 1971)
With Waymon Reed
- 46th and 8th (Artists House, 1977)
With Betty Roché
- Singin' & Swingin' (Prestige, 1960)
With Joe Williams
- Together (Roulette, 1961) - with Harry "Sweets" Edison
- A Swingin' Night at Birdland (Roulette, 1962)