James Robert Forrest Jr. (January 24, 1920 – August 26, 1980) was an American jazz musician, who played tenor saxophone throughout his career.
Forrest is known for his first solo recording of “Night Train“. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart in March 1952, and stayed at the top for seven weeks. “Hey Mrs. Jones” (No. 3 R&B) and “Bolo Blues” were his other hits. All were made for United Records, for which he recorded between 1951 and 1953; he recorded frequently as both a sideman and a bandleader.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, Forrest played alongside Fate Marable as a young man. He was with Jay McShann in 1940-42 and with Andy Kirk from 1942 until 1948 when he joined Duke Ellington.During the early 1950s, Forrest led his own combos. He also played with Miles Davis, in early 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.
Late in life Forrest married Betty Tardy (November 30, 1929 – October 21, 2011), and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he died in August 1980, aged 60, from heart failure.
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