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Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor

Douglas Payne By

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This relaxed, swinging quintet session from 1960 isn't the landmark that many of the other releases in this series are. But it is among the finest, most rewarding music tenor great Gene Ammons (1925-74) ever made. Boss Tenor — easily confused with Boss Tenors , the 1961 Verve record Ammons cut with Sonny Stitt — is probably included here due to Ammons's enduring and unprecedented affiliation with Prestige. Ammons recorded over 50 albums for the label from 1950, around the time of the label's inception, until Ammons's death in 1974 (interrupted only by seven years in jail between 1962 and 1969). A warm, burnished, consistently recognizable tone always blew through Ammons's horn and the assured, identifiable manner he could scale ballads, blues, bop and r & b was always reliable and appealing. Here, though, he is ideally teamed with the gracefully elegant and innately soulful pianist Tommy Flanagan, Prestige house bassist, Doug Watkins, and house drummer, Art Taylor, and with just the right amount of Latin spice, Ray Barretto's congas. The feel, less loose than many of the 1950s jam sessions that Ammons participated in, seems unusually well considered and as rehearsed as any Blue Note date. Ammons chooses well here too, glossing musically over Bird's "Confirmation," Bill Doggett's "Savoy" and easing lovingly through Rodgers and Hart's "My Romance" (ranking right up there with Ben Webster's classic interpretations). Two "hits" actually emerged from this record, making it one well worth acquiring: Ammon's soulful blues, "Hittin' The Jug," and a swinging rendition of the otherwise corny pop hit "Canadian Sunset." A winner all the way around, and one of the definitive additions to Ammons's huge discography.

Title: Boss Tenor | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Prestige Records

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