Jack Nimitz


Jack NimitzYesterday And Today (Fresh Sound). “Yesterday” was 1957, when the distinctive baritone saxophonist recorded a long-playing album for ABC-Paramount. The LP sat unissued for half a century. “Today” was early last year, when Nimitz went into the studio to record new music to add to the 1957 material and round out a compact disc. Nimitz’s tone has more heft and his soloing more aggressiveness than fifty years ago. In both instances, his playing is superb.
In New York in ’57, his front-line partner was Bill Harris, the eccentric and endlesslyBill Harris.jpg inventive trombone hero of several editions of the Woody Herman band. Among the players in the pianoless rhythm sections were bassist Oscar Pettiford, drummer Don Lamond and, in separate sessions, guitarists Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Raney and Chuck Wayne. Bob Zieff wrote arrangements for the two horns and a five-man string section that included Harry Lookofsky and other leading studio players of the day. It is puzzling that Zieff, noted for an advanced compositional style and the unusual pieces he created in the fifties for Chet Baker, gave the string writing here little of the harmonic astringency and complexity of line for which he was known. It was a missed opportunity. No matter; with superlative rhythm section support, Nimitz and Harris are unhampered, even gleeful, in their solos on “Somebody Loves Me,” “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” and seven other standards. Their hand-in-glove exchanges and intertwining on several pieces are a joy.
Nimitz’s foil In the 2007 session is Adam Schroeder, a young baritone player based in Los Angeles, as Nimitz has been for decades. Schroeder’s tonal quality is close to Nimitz’s latterday sound, but his conception seems to reflect that of Pepper Adams, and the contrast makes it fairly easy to tell them apart. If anything, Nimitz has gained pzazz in his later years. He frequently reaches into the baritone’s sub-basement for deep tones that challenge your woofer, and is likely to leap into tenor saxophone range for bursts of lyricism. As in the earlier session, most of the material is standard songs or originals based on them. Mike Barone’s sprightly “Waltz This” is an exception.
Toward the end of “More Friends” (“Just Friends”), the two baritones indulge themselves in a chorus of unaccompanied counterpoint that is as much fun to hear as it must have been to play. There is more of it on “It’s You or No One.” Nimitz’s stately ballad playing on “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” with a couple of Serge Chaloff references, is a highlight.The only strings on this occasion were those of the superb bassist Dave Carpenter in one of the last recordings before his death in June at the age of forty-eight. John Campbell is the pianist, Joe La Barbera the drummer, rounding out a first-rate rhythm section. This is a rare and welcome release, a recording led by Jack Nimitz in the middle of one century and the beginning of the next.

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  1. Red Colm O'Sullivan says

    What on earth happened to poor Dave Carpenter. How did it come to pass that he succumbed to heart failure at this age?

  2. Linda Levinson-Taylor says

    Jack was my significant other and best friend from 1978-1984. He was a terrific guy and a fabulous musician, sometimes playing three gigs a day. AM studio work, evenings at the Shubert and ending the night with a set with friends at either Carmello’s or Dante’s for those who remember those days and the kind of love Jack had for his chosen profession.
    There will one more hellluva horn player in heaven these days, I hope his 3 children and all who knew him totally appreciate the mark he left on the music world. What a musician! What a guy! May Jack Nimitz rest in peace. God bless him and those who cherished him.

  3. says

    Jack Nimitz was one of the finest baritone players and nicest human beings on the planet. I always admired his great section work on records but I didn’t get a chance to check out much of his solo work or hear him live until i met him during my brief residency in L.A. circa 1979-81.
    As a new baritone player in town I had heard about and actually witnessed the weird institutional standoffishness with which the L.A. cats were said to approach new arrivals, especially ones from N.Y. but “The Admiral” was immune to such mind games and was friendly and welcoming from day one. I had some great times hanging with him (we lived practically around the corner from each other) and learned some invaluable lessons about baritone playing and musicianship in general hearing him play with Supersax and especially with his own small groups. The warmth of his personality was made audible by his rich, beautiful baritone sound.
    Sail on Admiral! The section already sounds weaker without you.

  4. Dean Reilly says

    I was on a band in the early 50’s, along with Neil Friel and Ray(Red)Norman, two exceptional players. Jack Nimitz, due to his blond crew cut, was “Polar Bear” and I smile a lot, thinking of him.

  5. Dino Vinciguerra says

    I grew up in Washington, DC. Jack attended
    Anacostia high school with me. I remember him
    as a great musician but he left the DC area at
    a young age to carve out a great career in the
    music business. I always was impressed with his fantastic talent and although I haven’t seen him in almost 60 years I will always rememer the home town boy who made good.