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Listener Favorites & DrJ’s Birthday Blowout

Read "Listener Favorites & DrJ’s Birthday Blowout" reviewed by Marc Cohn

It's time for our recurring '5' (as in Show 365) party, listener favorites from Shows 351-360. And a bonus--DrJazz's birthday blowout (we don't usually do this, but this one is a nice round number....'40.' Well, 70 is the new 40?), in which he indulges with some of the tracks that keep his motor running when he's on the road. Enjoy the show. We did... Playlist Jane Ira Bloom “Big Bill" from Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson (Outline) 00:00 ...

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Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor

Read "Boss Tenor" reviewed by Matthew Aquiline

Tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons' tone can be best described using the qualities of an ideally brewed cup of joe: rounded, bold, smooth, and exhilarating after first taste. Widely regarded as an original founder of the “Chicago school of tenor sax," Ammons' nonchalant, yet indelible sound--echoing the soft, breathy tone of Lester Young--drove him to a great deal of fame within the post- World War II jazz crowds of the '50s. Ammons, famously nicknamed “Jug," had an inherent ability ...

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Gene Ammons: Fine and Mellow

Read "Fine and Mellow" reviewed by Derek Taylor

Gene “Jug” Ammons was a sucker for finely wrought pop songs. He was also unapologetic slave to melody, putting his sturdy saxophone into the service of countless hummable themes. But his improvisations were never slavish and even with material of papish pedigree he always seemed to find something worthwhile to say.

Perfect case in point is this new Prestige two-fer, which combines material from a pair of early '70s platters, Got My Own and Big Bad Jug. ...

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Gene Ammons & James Moody: The Chicago Concert

Read "The Chicago Concert" reviewed by Derek Taylor

Gene Ammons took the stage countless times during a career that spanned well over three decades. On a significant number of those dates, Jug found himself in the company of other horns, but sparks were often most plentiful when his foil in the frontline was a single tenor saxophone. Sonny Stitt abetted as his most common accomplice in this capacity and the pair solidified a place as one of the preeminent tandems in jazz. But Jug also found the opportunity ...

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Gene Ammons: Angel Eyes

Read "Angel Eyes" reviewed by Robert Gilbert

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 ...

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Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt: Left Bank Encores

Read "Left Bank Encores" reviewed by David A. Orthmann

The antithesis of studio-bred perfection, Left Bank Encores is another interesting artifact of Ammons and Stitt’s long-term partnership. The presence of a large, vocal crowd at the Famous Ballroom doesn’t spur the expected tenor battle; rather, something looser and less dramatic occurs.

During a brisk rendition of “Just In Time,” the set’s opener, Ammons states the melody then delivers a solo full of short, abrupt phrases with a burly, elephantine tone. The rhythm section, comprised of pianist Cedar Walton, bassist ...

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Gene Ammons: A Stranger In Town

Read "A Stranger In Town" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

More so than other independent jazz labels such as Blue Note and Riverside, the powers to be at Prestige seemed to take great liberties in producing albums that would often contain cuts from multiple sessions, a discographical nightmare at its most basic. But even more troubling, this often made for a lack of coherence that could be disconcerting at times. What then made all of this worse was that the practice was often used with some of the label’s most ...

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Gene Ammons: Gentle Jug, Vol. 3

Read "Gentle Jug, Vol. 3" reviewed by Derek Taylor

Among the legion of artists represented on the Fantasy Records roster Gene Ammons remains one of the most anthologized. Collections of his work abound and a primary reason for this was the prolific pace he set with the Prestige label (one of many now under the Fantasy umbrella) for nearly a quarter century and waxed sessions well into the double digits. Another reason stems the various stylistic suits he wore during his long tenure that make the ideal catalysts for ...

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Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor

Read "Boss Tenor" reviewed by Douglas Payne

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 ...

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Gene Ammons: Gene Ammons Greatest Hits: The 70s

Read "Gene Ammons Greatest Hits: The 70s" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Gene Ammons recorded for Prestige three decades, from 1950 almost to his death in 1974. This work was been compiled into three Greatest Hits volumes, and each has its own flavor. His sides in the 'Fifties concentrated on blues and jam sessions, with all-star casts. The 'Sixties brought small group efforts, emphasizing slow ballads and an easy-going attack from Ammons. Then came seven years (1962-69) of prison. He had been diagnosed with emphysema. In order to sever ties with a ...

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Gene Ammons, Joe Henderson, Booker Ervin: Late Hour Special, Canyon Lady, The Trance

Read "Late Hour Special, Canyon Lady, The Trance" reviewed by AAJ Staff

Fantasy's Original Jazz Classics (OJC) series boasts almost 1000 titles, and the series is showing no signs of slowing down. Three recent additions to the OJC line are these excellent titles by tenor saxmen Gene Ammons, Joe Henderson and Booker Ervin.

Ammons recorded so often in the early 1960s that when he was in prison on drug charges from 1962-1969, Prestige could still assemble some LPs. One such LP was Late Hour Special, which came out in 1964 and presented ...


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