There are some natural fits in jazz. One of my favorites was tenor and soprano saxophonist Zoot Sims with pianist Jimmy Rowles. Truth be told, Rowles was one of those players who managed to make anyone with whom he worked sound better, but Sims was an especially appropriate partner. Both were supreme melodic improvisers, both had exquisite tones and both displayed unerring good taste. They also had fine ears for material. “Getting Sentimental” places them on their favorite terrain with a program of choice standards augmented by a few appealing originals.
One of the tricks to playing post-swing, pre-bop music successfully is to choose a bass player and drummer who buoy the frontline crew while staying out of their way. Bassist Bob Cranshaw has been doing this for decades — mostly as a full-time member of Sonny Rollins'band. Drummer Mickey Roker knows exactly when to keep the time flowing and when to kick things up a notch. Listen to how assertively he plays on both versions of “I'm Getting Sentimental Over You” without ever lapsing into bombast.
But the lion's share of attention on this album rightfully goes to Sims and Rowles. Sims plays beautiful soprano on both “Caravan” and The Very Thought of You” but saves his most sumptuous playing for the tenor rendition of “Dream Dancing.” Ben Webster seems to be smiling over his shoulder. And Jimmy Rowles consistently provides his friend Zoot with chords that are as warm as a down comforter. This is music to luxuriate in.