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.
In addition to his own combos, he played with Jay McShann (1940-42), Andy Kirk (1942-48), Duke Ellington (1949), and also played with Miles Davis in the Spring of 1952 at The Barrel Club. After his solo career, he played in small combos with Harry “Sweets” Edison and Al Grey as well as appearing with Count Basie. Forrest’s heart was always in swinging jazz and he enjoyed his association with trumpeter Harry “Sweets” Edison during 1958-1963.
By the time 1961 rolled around, Forrest and Jack McDuff had recorded Tuff Duff and The Honeydrippers and were undoubtedly becoming one of the finest organ-sax combo’s ever recorded.
After a period of freelancing, Jimmy Forrest was a major soloist with Count Basie’s orchestra during 1972-1977, spending the years before his death in 1980 co-leading a group with trombonist Al Grey. His brand of stomping and soulful jazz has never gone out of style.