Jimmy Forrest was a big, rich, deep-toned tenor saxophonist who gave his all during every performance. Jimmy’s heart was always in hard swinging jazz and he enjoyed a brand of stomping, soulful jazz. Forrest was best known for his honking solo in “Night Train,” which topped the R&B charts at #1 for seven weeks in 1952.
Forrest was a full-service tenor saxophonist who emphasized rocking playing drenched in blues but whose abilities extended much further. Experienced with bands from Fate Marable to Duke Elllington, he interpreted a wide range of music and had a lyrical touch with ballads.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Forrest worked in the Midwest with pianist Eddie Johnson, Fate Marable, the Jeter-Pillars Orchestra, and Don Albert. Respected for his tone and his swinging style, Forrest worked with the Jay McShann Orchestra and the Andy Kirk big band (1942-1948). He had a stint with Duke Ellington in 1949 and two years later recorded “Night Train.” The success of that hit allowed Forrest to lead his own band for several years, recording other similar r&b-oriented material.
Forrest’s heart was always in swinging jazz and he enjoyed his association with trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison during 1958-1963. During that period, Forrest recorded five albums for Prestige and New Jazz, showing that he could play hard bop and soul-jazz in addition to swing and 1950s r&b. “Forrest Fire,” “Out of the Forrest,” “Sit Down and Relax,” “Most Much!,” and “Soul Street,” feature the saxophonist in a quartet with organist Larry Young, groups with either Joe Zawinul or Hugh Lawson on piano, a Latin-flavored date with Ray Barretto, and with the Oliver Nelson Orchestra.
Jimmy Forrest - Laura. Track 2 from the album All The Gin Is Gone (1959). Recorded at Hall Studios, Chicago, Illinois on December 10 & 12, 1959.
Personnel: Jimmy Forrest (tenor saxophone); Harold Mabern (piano); Grant Green (guitar); Gene Ramey (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).