Jimmy Forrest (January 24, 1920 – August 26, 1980) was an influential American jazz saxophonist known for his soulful and bluesy tenor saxophone playing. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Forrest began his musical journey by learning the piano, but later switched to the tenor saxophone, which would become his primary instrument.
Forrest began his professional career in the late 1930s, playing with the bands of Fate Marable, Don Albert, and Jay McShann. In the 1940s, he joined Andy Kirk’s orchestra, where he gained recognition as a skilled saxophonist. However, it was during his time with Duke Ellington in the early 1950s that Forrest solidified his reputation as a prominent musician in the jazz world. He also played with other notable musicians such as Count Basie, Sweets Edison, and Joe Williams.
As a bandleader, Jimmy Forrest recorded a number of albums throughout his career. One of his most famous recordings, “Night Train” (1951), became a hit, with the title track reaching the top of the R&B charts. This composition has since become a jazz standard, covered by numerous artists and featured in various films and television shows.
Despite facing health issues later in life, Forrest continued to perform and record throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He collaborated with several prominent musicians during this time, including Miles Davis and Oliver Nelson. Some of his notable works from this period include albums like “Forrest Fire,” “Sit Down and Relax,” and “Soul Street.”
Jimmy Forrest passed away on August 26, 1980, leaving behind a rich legacy as a saxophonist, composer, and bandleader. His blues-infused style, soulful playing, and memorable compositions have made a lasting impact on the world of jazz, earning him a place among the greats in the genre.
In summary, Jimmy Forrest was an accomplished jazz saxophonist who contributed significantly to the development and evolution of jazz music. With a career spanning several decades, Forrest worked with some of the biggest names in the industry, produced numerous influential recordings, and left an indelible mark on the world of jazz.