Live at Falcon Lair has a more interesting back story than many older recordings that have been rescued for posterity, but even the story takes a backseat to the excellent music. Falcon Lair wasn't a club, but the home of Doris Duke (and once the home of Rudolph Valentino), whom pianist Joe Castro married in 1956. Castro developed his musical rep playing around L.A., sometimes in the company of bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummer Ron Jefferson.
Along with his album with Count Basie (Basie and Zoot) during the same period, this is one of Sims' most exciting recordings of his career. Greatly assisted by pianist Oscar Peterson, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist George Mraz, and drummer Grady Tate, he explores ten songs written by George and Ira Gershwin. Somehow the magic was definitely present and, whether it be stomps such as "The Man I Love," "Lady Be Good," and "I Got Rhythm" or warm ballads (including "I've Got a Crush on You" and "Embraceable You"), Zoot Sims is heard at the peak of his powers. A true gem.
For this Pablo album, the great tenor Zoot Sims (who doubles on soprano) interprets five pretty melodies plus his own "Pomme Au Four" with a quartet comprised of pianist Richard Wyands, bassist Frank Tate and drummer Akira Tana. All of the selections are highlights so they are worth mentioning: "I Hear a Rhapsody," "Over the Rainbow" (which Sims plays for nearly 11 minutes), "The Very Thought of You," "If You Were Mine" and "Indian Summer." This laid-back set is successful both as background music and for close listening. ~ AllMusic