PhotoStory: John Reynolds on Zoot - JazzWax

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September 06, 2011


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That photo of the Atlantic House is extraordinarily evocative, like something out of a fairytale.
Zoot fans may be interested in knowing that one of his finest recordings, long out of print, has finally come out on dvd. It's a very intimate trio session called "In a Sentimental Mood" with some nice close-ups of Red Mitchell's bass technique.

Bruce Armstrong

John, thanks for sharing your remembrance of seeing Zoot, Mulligan, and the rest of those wonderful players on your visit to the Cape. A nice piece of first-hand jazz history. I saw Zoot on both Coasts over the years, but never got lucky enough to see giants like Gerry Mulligan sitting in. How I envy you!

Peter Levin

Great story.

Might that bass player have been Bill Crow instead of Bob Whitlock?

Bruno Leicht

There should be mentioned the bass player of the Bud Powell Trio at the Blue Note in Paris: It's either Jean-Marie Ingrand, or more likely Pierre Michelot who arrived late for the gig.


Bruno: It wasn't Michelot - I saw him there later. Powell's entire trio was black. Don't know if it was Jean-Marie Ingrand glaring at me...

Bruno Leicht

John: Thanks. -- My source was the Bud Powell online discography which is certainly incomplete.

I have only a few LP's with Bud's later trios; maybe it was John Ore? -- Anyway, I there are three tracks with Zoot, Bud, Pierre & Kenny from the Blue Note, but they were recorded in January 1961.

Jean-Marie Ingrand was a white guy, I suppose. No photo with him, but many others on the LP "Groovin' At The Blue Note, 59-61".


BRUNO: After 50 years, things are admittedly fuzzy. I remember Whitlock quite clearly because the head of his bass (the part at the top of the fingerboard) was unusual, carved in a devil's head, and because I was certain he was the guy I saw a year earlier playing with Mulligan in Provincetown. But as I say, 50 years even of relatively clean living, takes its toll. Bud Powell's playing remains fresh in my memory as well as his somewhat distant bearing. His life, of course, was just one more tragedy in a litany of them among black jazz musicians in the 40s and 50s.

Bruno Leicht

Yes, John, Bud's life was a tragedy; he had headaches all his life since that unfortunate beating in 1945, when a cop hit him with his baton. Miles said he never was able to play like he used to *before* that date!

Here are several versions of this story:

Zoot's life was no less stamped by ups and downs; he even painted houses for making some extra bucks. It's always been a hard time for musician's musicians like Kenny Dorham, Zoot Sims, or Steve Lacy: All exceptional players, great stylists, but no big sellers.

Your pictures are really outstanding, very artful. Gerry was moving quite a bit, wasn't he?


BRUNO: I knew, of course, of the outrageous and tragic treatment of Bud Powell but I guess I always assumed that Zoot would have no difficulty finding steady work. Painting houses? What a waste of talent, and what a great, swinging character he was although as he aged he played ballads with more emotion than any 10 other musicians. Listen to him on Emily and Nature Boy on one of his last albums. What soul...

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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