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 ...read more
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 ...read more
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. ...read more
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 ...read more
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 So, not only does the album feature an outdated snapshot of Ammons’ work as a jazz ...read more
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 ...read more
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 ...read more