424

Gene Ammons: Angel Eyes

By

Sign in to view read count
Gene Ammons: Angel Eyes Gene Ammons’ Angel Eyes leaves a nagging feeling that it was thrown together and dumped onto the marketplace with little or no thought. After all, when Angel Eyes was released in 1965, Ammons was in the middle of serving a long jail term for narcotics possession. These tunes are culled from two separate sessions, done in 1960 and 1962 respectively, featuring vastly different groups. So, not only does the album feature an outdated snapshot of Ammons’ work as a jazz artist, it also features music that had lingered in the vaults for years.

Of course, these two reservations are nonsense when considering the way jazz record companies operated during the 1960s. Blue Note Records, for example, held off on releasing many recordings that, upon their release years and years later, have revealed few discernable flaws. In addition, just because an album contains music recorded by an artist years ago, that in no way should detract from the listener’s enjoyment or its critical value.

The six songs on Angel Eyes can easily be broken into three up-tempo tracks and three ballads. The trio of light, subtle swingers feature a quintet of Ammons, Frank Wess on flute and tenor saxophone, organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith, bassist Doug Watkins and Art Taylor on drums. Soulful playing dominates these tunes with Ammons getting in a relaxed solo on “Gettin’ Around” and Wess turning in a memorable flute improvisation on “Blue Room.”

The same band shows up on the title track and shifts gears from soul to melancholy. In his theme statement, Ammons makes the tune his own, turning the song into a bluesy lament. When he exhorts the listener to “drink up” and “order anything you see,” his saxophone becomes an instrument of beauty and with only a few choice notes conjures up a searing impression of sadness. Throughout the nine minutes of “Angel Eyes,” Ammons’ band creates a expert example of slow-motion ballad playing that perfectly fits the song’s lyrics and drips with pure, authentic emotion.

“You Go To My Head” and “It’s The Talk of the Town” pair Ammons up with a rhythm section featuring Mal Waldron on piano, bassist Wendell Marshall and Ed Thigpen on drums. Both are relatively straightforward ballads which concentrate on melody. The latter tune serves as an effective closer to the album, coming after the celebratory mood of “Water Jug,” and features a creative cadenza by Ammons.

Upon first glance, Angel Eyes may give the impression that it was hastily put together by Prestige, but the music inside brims with the enthusiasm and talent of jazz musicians creating music to be enjoyed and savoured for years and years to come.


Track Listing: Gettin' Around; Blue Room; You Got To My Head; Angel Eyes; Water Jug; It's The Talk of the Town

Personnel: Gene Ammons - tenor saxophone; Frank Wess - tenor saxophone and flute; Johnny "Hammond" Smith - organ; Mal Waldron - piano; Doug Watkins, Wendell Marshall - bass; Art Taylor, Ed Thigpen - drums

Year Released: 1965 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Aerials" CD/LP/Track Review Aerials
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: April 20, 2016
Read "Porcupine Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Porcupine Meat
by James Nadal
Published: September 29, 2016
Read "On Ceremony" CD/LP/Track Review On Ceremony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 17, 2016
Read "Night Music" CD/LP/Track Review Night Music
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "Beguiled" CD/LP/Track Review Beguiled
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 9, 2016
Read "Blackwater" CD/LP/Track Review Blackwater
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: September 27, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!