|Birth name||John Haley Sims|
|Born||October 29, 1925|
Inglewood, California, U.S.
|Died||March 23, 1985 (aged 59)|
New York City, U.S.
John Haley "Zoot" Sims (October 29, 1925 – March 23, 1985) was an American jazz saxophonist, playing mainly tenor but also alto (and, later, soprano) saxophone. He first gained attention in the "Four Brothers" sax section of Woody Herman's big band, afterward enjoying a long solo career, often in partnership with fellow saxmen Gerry Mulligan and Al Cohn.
Sims was born in 1925 in Inglewood, California, United States, to vaudeville performers Kate Haley and John Sims. His father was a vaudeville hoofer, and Sims prided himself on remembering many of the steps his father taught him. Growing up in a performing family, he learned to play drums and clarinet at an early age. His brother was the trombonist Ray Sims.
Sims began on tenor saxophone at age 13. He initially modelled his playing on the work of Lester Young, Ben Webster, and Don Byas. By his late teens, having dropped out of high school, he was playing in big bands, starting with those of Kenny Baker and Bobby Sherwood. He joined Benny Goodman's band for the first time in 1943 (he was to rejoin in 1946, and continued to perform with Goodman on occasion through the early 1970s). Sims replaced Ben Webster in Sid Catlett's Quartet of 1944. In May 1944, Sims made his recording debut for Commodore Records in a sextet led by pianist Joe Bushkin, who two months earlier had recorded for the same label as part of Lester Young's Kansas City Six.
Sims served as a corporal in the United States Army Air Force from 1944 to 1946, then returned to music in the bands of Artie Shaw, Stan Kenton, and Buddy Rich. He was one of Woody Herman's "Four Brothers". From 1954-1956 he toured with his friend Gerry Mulligan's sextet, and in the early 1960s, with Mulligan's Concert Jazz Band. Sims played on some of Jack Kerouac's recordings. From the late 1950s to the end of his life, Sims was primarily a freelancer, though he worked frequently in the 1960s and early 1970s with a group co-led with Al Cohn. In the 1970s and 1980s, he also played and recorded regularly with a handful of other musical partners including Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Venuti, and Jimmy Rowles. In 1975, he began recording for Norman Granz's Pablo Records label. Sims appeared on more than 20 Pablo albums, mostly as a featured solo artist, but also as a backing musician for artists including Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, and Clark Terry. Between 1974 and 1983, Sims recorded six studio albums with pianist Jimmy Rowles in a quartet setting that critic Scott Yanow wrote feature Sims at his best.
Sims acquired the nickname "Zoot" early in his career while he was in the Kenny Baker band in California. "When he joined Kenny Baker's band as a fifteen-year-old tenor saxophonist, each of the music stands was embellished with a nonsense word. The one he sat behind said 'Zoot.' That became his name."
Sims played a 30-second solo on the song "Poetry Man", written by singer Phoebe Snow on her debut eponymous album in 1974. He also played on Laura Nyro's "Lonely Women", on her album Eli and the Thirteenth Confession.
Sims' last studio recording was a November, 1984 trio session featuring bassist Red Mitchell, recorded in Sweden and released in 1985 by Sonet records. Zoot Sims died of lung cancer on March 23, 1985 in New York City, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Nyack, New York.
- 1950: The Zoot Sims Quartet in Paris (Discovery, 1950)
- 1950-51: Swinging with Zoot (Prestige, 1951)
- 1950-51: Tenor Sax Favorites (Prestige, 1951)
- 1949-52: The Brothers (Prestige, 1956) with Stan Getz
- 1952: Contemporary Music as Zoot Sims All Stars (Prestige, 1953) – also released as Zoot Sims All Stars (Esquire)
- 1950-54: Zoot Sims Quintet (Prestige, 1954) with Stu Williamson - reissued as Good Old Zoot (New Jazz, 1962)(LP)
- 1950-54: Zootcase (Prestige, 1975)(2 LP)
- 1954?: Zoot Simms In Hollywood (New Jazz, 1954)
- 1954: Happy Minors (Bethlehem, 1955) with Red Mitchell, Bob Brookmeyer
- 1955: Playing as Hall Daniels' Septet (Jump, 1955) – reissued as Nash-Ville (Zim, 1977) with Dick Nash
- 1956: The Modern Art of Jazz by Zoot Sims (Dawn, 1956)
- 1956: From A to...Z (RCA Victor, 1957) with Al Cohn
- 1956: Tonite's Music Today (Storyville, 1956) with Bob Brookmeyer
- 1956: Whooeeee (Storyville, 1956) with Bob Brookmeyer
- 1956: Zoot Sims Avec Henri Renaud Et Son Orchestre Et Jon Eardley (Ducretet-Thomson, 1956) with Henri Renaud Et Son Orchestre and Jon Eardley
- 1956: Zoot (Argo Records, 1957)
- 1956: Zoot! (Riverside, 1957)
- 1956: Tenor Conclave (Prestige, 1957) with John Coltrane, Al Cohn, Hank Mobley, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Art Taylor
- 1956: Goes to Jazzville (Dawn, 1957)
- 1956: Live at Falcon Lair (Pablo, 2004) with Joe Castro Trio
- 1956: Zoot Sims Plays Alto, Tenor, and Baritone (ABC-Paramount, 1957)
- 1956-57: Bohemia After Dark (Jazz Hour, 1994)
- 1957: The Four Brothers... Together Again! (Vik, 1957) with Herbie Steward et al.
- 1957: Al and Zoot (Coral, 1957) with Al Cohn
- 1957: Locking Horns (Rama, 1957) with Joe Newman
- 1957-58: Happy Over Hoagy (Jass, 1987) with Al Cohn Septet - complete session plus 1961 live date with Mose Allison was released as The Hoagy Carmichael Sessions And More (Lone Hill Jazz, 2004)
- 1958: Stretching Out (United Artists, 1959) with Bob Brookmeyer et al.
- 1954-59: Choice (Pacific Jazz, 1961)
- 1959: Jazz Alive! A Night at the Half Note (United Artists, 1959) with Al Cohn and Phil Woods – live
- 1959?: A Gasser! (World Pacific, 1959) with Annie Ross
- 1959-60: Either Way (Fred Miles, 1961) with Al Cohn
- 1960: You 'n' Me (Mercury, 1960) with Al Cohn
- 1960: Down Home (Bethlehem, 1960)
- 1961: Either Way (Fred Miles Presents, 1961) with Al Cohn
- 1961: Zoot at Ronnie Scott's (Fontana, 1962)
- 1961: Solo for Zoot (Fontana, 1962)
- 1962?: New Beat Bossa Nova Means The Samba Swings (Colpix, 1962)
- 1962?: New Beat Bossa Nova Vol. 2 (Colpix, 1962)
- 1964: Two Jims and Zoot (Mainstream, 1964) with Jimmy Raney and Jim Hall - also released as Outra Vez
- 1965: Inter-Action (Cadet, 1965) with Sonny Stitt
- 1965: Suitably Zoot (Pumpkin, 1979)
- 1965: Al and Zoot in London (World Record Club, 1967) with Al Cohn
- 1965: At the Half Note Again – not officially released
- 1966: Waiting Game (Impulse!, 1966)
- 1967: The Greatest Jazz Concert in the World (Pablo, 1975)
- 1968: Easy as Pie: Live at the Left Bank (Label M, 2001) with Al Cohn
- 1973: Body and Soul (Muse, 1973) with Al Cohn
- 1973: Zoot Suite (High Note, 2007) – live audience recording
- 1973: Joe & Zoot (Chiaroscuro, 1974) with Joe Venuti – expanded reissue as Joe & Zoot & More (Chiaroscuro, 2002)
- 1974: Zoot Sims' Party (Choice, 1974) – released as Getting Sentimental (Candid, 1997) on CD
- 1974: Nirvana (Groove Merchant, 1974) with Bucky Pizzarelli and special guest Buddy Rich – reissued as Somebody Loves Me (Lester Recording Catalog, 2003)
- 1974: Strike Up the Band (Flying Dutchman, 1975) with Bobby Hackett and Bucky Pizzarelli
- 1974: Dave McKenna Quartet Featuring Zoot Sims (Chiaroscuro, 1974) with Dave McKenna - reissued in 1994 on CD with four extra tracks
- 1974: Motoring Along (Sonet, 1975) with Al Cohn and Horace Parlan
- 1975: Basie & Zoot (Pablo, 1975) with Count Basie
- 1975: Zoot Sims and the Gershwin Brothers (Pablo, 1975) with Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass
- 1975 The Tenor Giants Featuring Oscar Peterson (Pablo, 1975) and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis
- 1976: Zoot Sims With Bucky Pizzarelli (Classic Jazz, 1976) with Bucky Pizzarelli - also released as Summon
- 1976: Soprano Sax (Pablo, 1976) with Ray Bryant and George Mraz
- 1976: Hawthorne Nights (Pablo, 1977)
- 1977: If I'm Lucky (Pablo, 1977) with Jimmy Rowles
- 1978: For Lady Day (Pablo, 1991) with Jimmy Rowles
- 1978: Zoot Sims in Copenhagen (Storyville, 1995)
- 1978: Just Friends (Pablo, 1980) with Harry Edison
- 1978: Warm Tenor (Pablo, 1979) with Jimmy Rowles
- 1978: The Sweetest Sounds (Sonet Gramofon/Pablo Today, 1979) with Rune Gustafsson
- 1979-80: The Swinger (Pablo, 1981)
- 1979-80: Passion Flower: Zoot Sims Plays Duke Ellington (Pablo, 1980)
- 1981: I Wish I Were Twins (Pablo, 1981) with Jimmy Rowles
- 1981: Art 'n' Zoot (Pablo, 1995) with Art Pepper
- 1982: The Innocent Years (Pablo, 1982) as The Zoot Sims Four
- 1982: Blues for Two (Pablo, 1983) with Joe Pass
- 1983: On The Korner (Pablo, 1994) – the last recording at The Keystone Korner
- 1983: Suddenly It's Spring (Pablo, 1983)
- 1984: Quietly There: Zoot Sims Plays Johnny Mandel (Pablo, 1984) – compositions of Johnny Mandel
- The Best of Zoot Sims (Pablo, 1980)
- That Old Feeling (Chess, 1995) – double-issue CD of two 1956 albums: Zoot and Zoot Sims Plays Alto, Tenor, and Baritone
With Pepper Adams
With Chet Baker
With Count Basie
With Al Cohn
With Quincy Jones
With Stan Kenton
With Carmen McRae
With Gerry Mulligan
With Oliver Nelson
With Sarah Vaughan
With Joe Williams
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. pp. 2275/6. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
- "Zoot Sims". All About Jazz. Retrieved August 8, 2013.
-  Archived October 26, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- Levinson, Peter J. (2005). September in the Rain: The Life of Nelson Riddle. Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 140.
- Folkart, Burt A. "Saxophonist John Haley (Zoot) Sims Dies at 59". Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1985. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
- Smith, Sid (May 5, 2008). "Jack Kerouac with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims: Blues And Haikus". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
- Cerra, Steven (2009-04-02). "Jazz Profiles: John Haley "Zoot" Sims - Part 3". Jazz Profiles. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
- Yanow, Scott. "Warm Tenor". Allmujsic.com. AllMusic, Netaktion LLC.
- "Phoebe Snow - Phoebe Snow | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
- Songfacts. "Lonely Women by Laura Nyro - Songfacts". www.songfacts.com. Retrieved 2019-10-27.
- "Zoot Sims entry on Find A Grave". Find A Grave. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
- "Zoot Sims Avec Henri Renaud Et Son Orchestre Et Jon Eardley - Zoot Sims Avec Henri Renaud Et Son Orchestre Et Jon Eardley". Discogs. Retrieved 15 November 2017.