There are many Gene Ammons recordings currently available on CD in Fantasy's Original Jazz Classics, since the versatile tenorman was a longtime Prestige recording artist. Unlike his earlier jam sessions, this particular outing finds Ammons as the only horn, fronting a talented rhythm section (pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins, drummer Art Taylor, and Ray Barretto on congas). Ammons explores standards (including a near-classic version of "Canadian Sunset"), blues, and ballads in his usual warm, soulful, and swinging fashion. This is a fine outing by one of the true "bosses" of the tenor.
The two early-'60s LPs in the Soul Summit series featured some of the many collaborations of tenors Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt, who are joined by organist Jack McDuff and drummer Charlie Persip. Their six performances are primarily riff tunes, with "When You Wish Upon a Star" taken at a medium pace and "Out in the Cold Again" the lone ballad. The second half of this CD, which features both volumes, features Ammons on two songs ("Love, I've Found You" and a swinging "Too Marvelous for Words") with a big band arranged by Oliver Nelson, jamming "Ballad for Baby" with a quintet, sitting out "Scram" (which stars McDuff and the tenor of Harold Vick), and backing singer Etta Jones on three numbers, of which "Cool, Cool Daddy" is the most memorable. Overall, this is an interesting and consistently swinging set that adds to the large quantity of recordings that the great Ammons did during the early '60s.
Gene Ammons gets the Cannonball Adderley treatment – as he blows funky solos over an album arranged and conducted by David Axelrod! Brasswind has a larger, fuller funky sound than some of his earlier work for Prestige – and it works very well! The overall sound's a bit smoother, but Axelrod's edge is still quite sharp, and the polished jazzy arrangements still have plenty of funk to around. George Duke is on keyboards and Carol Kaye plays bass – and other players include Snooky Young, Michael Howell, Jim Horn and Kay Migliori. Titles include "Cantaro", "Brasswind", "Cariba", "Rozzie", and "Once I Loved".
Along with its fellow CD, Groove Blues, this reissue fully documents all of the music recorded by tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons on the busy day of January 3, 1958. Although there were many guest soloists, only one of the four songs on this half of the set (Mal Waldron's "The Real McCoy") has appearances by John Coltrane (on alto) and the tenor of Paul Quinichette.
Ironically, Gene "Jug" Ammons tended to be critical of organists; he was quoted as saying that "organ players don't know any changes." However, as critical the Chicago tenor saxman might have been of organists – most of them, anyway – he did some of his best work in their presence. When you united Ammons with Jack McDuff, Johnny "Hammond" Smith and other B-3 masters in the '60s, the sparks would fly. They certainly fly on this excellent album, which finds Ammons and Richard "Groove" Holmes co-leading a soul-jazz/hard bop organ combo that also includes guitarist Gene Edwards and drummer Leroy Henderson.
Ammons, whose studio recordings of the period were somewhat commercial, is heard in excellent form playing a blues and three standards with the backing of a fine rhythm section: Hampton Hawes (who unfortunately sticks to electric piano), electric bassist Bob Cranshaw, drummer Kenny Clarke and Kenneth Nash on congas. Best of all is a 17-minute blues on which Ammons welcomes fellow tenor Dexter Gordon, cornetist Nat Adderley and altoist Cannonball Adderley; the four horns all get to trade off with each other. This is one of the better late-period Gene Ammons records.
Tenorman Gene Ammons headed a series of notable studio jam session in the 1950s and this is one of the better ones. With such fine young players as trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, altoist Jackie McLean, pianst Mal Waldron, guitarist Kenny Burrell, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Art Taylor, Ammons and his friends jam through four numbers all of which clock in between 11:59 and 13:01. The results are an accessible and often exciting brand of bebop.