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John "Zoot" Sims Papers

 Collection
Identifier: JC.2015.02

Scope and Contents

The John “Zoot” Sims Papers primarily documents his professional career as a musician, and his legacy. The materials include contracts, sheet music, photographs, correspondence, newspaper articles, and periodicals. Most of the correspondence concerns release rights, and requests for information about Zoot’s relationships with musicians, such as Joe Venuti. The Zoot Sims Scholarship and his continued legacy at The New School in New York City are documented by news clippings and programs. Photographs include shots of Sims alone, with other musicians, and with family. Of note are manuscript lead sheets of Johnny Mandel compositions. Some of the materials in this collection were collected by Sims’s wife after her husband’s death.

Dates

  • 1940 - 2011
  • Majority of material found within 1974 - 2006

Biographical / Historical

Born in Inglewood, Calif., John Haley Sims (b. October 29, 1925 – d. March 23, 1985) began his professional music career at a young age playing drums and clarinet in a group with three of his five brothers: Bob on trumpet; Gene on guitar; and Ray, who later became a well-known trombonist, on tuba. Their parents, Pete and Kate, were vaudeville performers. Sims got the nickname Zoot at random at age 15 while playing in Kenny Baker’s group. He later toured with Bobby Sherwood’s orchestra before playing with Benny Goodman, with whom he would play frequently over the years. Sims served in the Army stateside from 1944 to 1946. After the war, he played again for Benny Goodman before playing with Woody Herman’s Second Heard in the saxophone section known as Four Brothers. After leaving Herman’s group in 1949, Sims played with the Benny Goodman Sextet. In 1962, Sims played again with Benny Goodman as part of Goodman’s Russian tour and as part of his Australian tour in 1973. While playing with Herman, Sims met Al Cohn with whom he would later form a long friendship and partnership. Cohn and Zoot formed a group in 1957 and played together frequently until Sims’s death. Sims married Louise Choo in 1970. He died in New York City on March 23, 1985.

Extent

4 Linear Feet (One box, one oversize box, one oversize folder)

Language of Materials

English

Overview

Born in Inglewood, Calif., John Haley Sims (b. October 29, 1925 – d. March 23, 1985) began his professional music career at a young age playing drums and clarinet in a group with three of his five brothers: Bob on trumpet; Gene on guitar; and Ray, who later became a well-known trombonist, on tuba. He went on to play saxophone in his own groups, and with others, notably Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, and Al Cohn. The John “Zoot” Sims Papers primarily documents his professional career as a musician, and his legacy. The materials include contracts, sheet music, photographs, correspondence, newspaper articles, and periodicals.

Arrangement

The John “Zoot” Sims Papers are arranged into three series: Personal and Professional Papers, Photographs, and Oversize. The Personal and Professional Papers series is meant to show that there is no clear distinction between his personal and professional life as represented by this collection. When provided, folder titles probably created by Louise Sims, were retained.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Louise Sims in 2011

Separated Materials

A collection of books was transferred to the library
Title
John “Zoot” Sims Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Finding aid written by Kelly J. Smith, CA
Date
March 2016
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Al Cohn Memorial Jazz Collection Repository

Contact:
East Stroudsburg University
200 Prospect Street
Kemp Library
East Stroudsburg PA 18301
570-422-3594