Zoot Sims and Al Cohn have been a tenor saxophone team on and off for two decades. In recent years, each has mostly gone his own way to pursue separate playing, and, in Cohn's case, arranging careers.
Sims and Cohn, in residence at the Showboat Lounge through Sunday, are both rooted in the Lester Young tenor tradition and in the conventions of the late '40s and early '50s. It was no surprise, then, that Wednesday night's opener was "Broadway," a favorite of jazzmen of that school. It was also no surprise that Sims and Cohn produced the mellow, virile swing that has long been their trademark. "Do Nothin 'Til You Hear From Me" and "Indiana," the latter with Sims on soprano sax, were rendered in similar fashion.
These pleasures notwithstanding, the best moments came in the solo features. Cohn tackled "Body and Soul," the acid test for tenorists, and produced a version on a plane with the best. Sims shone on "The Girl from Ipanema," a classic bossa nova piece that he has made his own.
Locals Keter Betts on bass, Kirk Stuart on piano, and Warren Shad on drums gave solid mainstream support. Stuart's Oscar Peterson-like piano was a pleasant revelation.