Gene Ammons – Late Hour Special {Fantasy} “Russian Print”


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

Originally released by Prestige while tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons was serving a long prison sentence for possession of drugs (the label effectively kept Ammons’ name alive by regularly coming out with “new” material), this album was reissued on CD in 1997. The distinctive tenor is heard on three numbers with a quartet/quintet also including pianist Patti Bown, bassist George Duvivier, drummer Walter Perkins, and sometimes Ray Barretto on conga, and on four cuts as part of a ten-piece group arranged by Oliver Nelson. Flugelhornist Clark Terry gets a couple of choruses on “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be,” and Bown has several solos, but Ammons is the main star throughout. In addition to performing his own “Lascivious” (a blues), he sticks to standards, infusing each tune with soul and swing. A fine outing, although with brief (35 & 1/2 minutes) playing time.

Tracks:
01 – The Party’s Over
02 – I Want to Be Loved (But by Only You)
03 – Things Ain’t What They Used to Be
04 – Lascivious
05 – Makin’ Whoopee
06 – Soft Winds
07 – Lullaby of the Leaves

Personnel:
Gene Ammons – tenor saxophone
George Barrow, Red Holloway – tenor saxophone
Oliver Nelson – alto saxophone, arranger & conductor
Bob Ashton – baritone saxophone
Clark Terry, Hobart Dotson – trumpet
Patti Bown, Richard Wyands – piano
George Duvivier, Wendell Marshall – bass
Walter Perkins, Bill English – drums
Ray Barretto – conga

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ; on June 13, 1961 and April 13, 1962.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

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Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt – Boss Tenors in Orbit! {Verve}


Review by Michael G. Nastos (allmusic.com)

Though Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt were the premier twin towers of jazz tenor sax bar none, they also had great mutual respect for their distinctly different styles. The soulful Ammons and the bop-oriented Stitt meshed well whether playing standards, jamming on familiar melodies, or in ballad form. This recording sees them a bit restrained, teamed with the brilliant organist Don Patterson, the totally obscure guitarist Paul Weeden, and the great drummer Billy James. There’s a schism in terms of the stereo separation as each saxophonist gets his own channel, but on occasion they do play together, just not all that much. Some longer cuts allow Patterson to loosen up and take charge, but he is in the main an accompanist on this date from 1962. There’s no real battling for turf here, while one-upmanship is redacted as the two take turns with nary a hint of egotism. Stitt switches to alto in contrast, and the two saxophonists play together on the good swinger “Walkin’,” always a jam vehicle but shortened here, with the basic melody played only one time through, with Ammons adding a bit of harmony to the proceedings. They trade shorter phrases on “Why Was I Born?,” as Stitt goes off on a flurry of bebop notes. Where “John Brown’s Body” is quintessential soul-jazz at its primal best, they stretch out on the ten-minute jam “Bye Bye Blackbird,” with Stitt first out of the batters’ box and Ammons hitting for extra bases to drive his bandmate home. Where programming doesn’t really matter on a CD (you can do that on your own), the leadoff track — strangely enough — is downtempo, hardly something to send anyone into orbit. “Long Ago and Far Away” is a ballad feature, first for Ammons and then Stitt, where the stereo effect is in full flight as the two go back and forth, with Patterson’s sweet, swinging, and soulful B-3 languishing in the background. While not an out-and-out knock-down, drag-out event like their other recordings, this is still one of too few magical efforts with Ammons and Stitt together. Those who crave the live cutting sessions that made jazz very exciting in the early ’60s might also consider this tamer studio effort. [The Deluxe Edition contains no additional tracks from the original issue, but there is a detailed booklet and double-fold cardboard container.]

Tracks:
01 – Long Ago and Far Away
02 – Walkin’
03 – Why Was I Born?
04 – John Brown’s Body
05 – Bye-Bye, Blackbird

Personnel:
Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt – tenor & alto saxophone
Don Patterson – organ
Paul Weeden – guitar
Billy James – drums

Recorded February 18, 1962 at Van Gelder Recording Studio,
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork