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Boss Tenor by Gene Ammons

Tenor saxophonist, Gene Ammons, is one of the main entries into bop and swing. He encased the buoyant, breathy resonance and sentimentality of Coleman Hawkins and the threadlike melodic lines of Lester Young and blew out his own stuff. For his forty-nine years of living (April 14, 1925 - August 6, 1974), almost ten were spent behind bars. Most of the rest of his time was spent with Bob Weinstock at his Prestige label (though for this 1960 recording, Esmond Edwards supervised the session.) Boss Tenor is one of the first ten reissues coming from the Rudy Van Gelder Remasters (RVG) series. At age 81, Rudy Van Gelder, the original engineer for these sessions, has been called upon to re-master inspired moments of artists like Ammons, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Etta Jones. These will probably be his last assignments caring for masterpieces that he brought into this world for Prestige, as well as for Blue Note, Savoy and other labels.

In comparing the RVG Remasters CD (PRCD-8102-2) to the 1987 CD (P-7180) of Boss Tenor, Ammons' tone is warmed up, particularly on the ballad "My Romance." The other cuts have, overall, more clarity. The groove was never missing so there’s nothing to tinker with there. Pianist Tommy Flanagan’s unfailing tastefulness is truly enhanced by the technology on the opener "Hittin’ The Jug." If it’s possible to hear sunset orange, orchid lavender and cheek-blush red, that’s what’s happening on this reissue. Yes, the original liner notes by Leroi Jones still resemble the footprints of ants on the page. Included are thoughts by Mr. Van Gelder (that accompany each RVG Remasters) and journalist Bob Porter with more insight on the players. One of the visible errors from the orginal pressing is the name of the album’s last tune, "Savoy." The correct and full title is "Stompin’ At The Savoy."

Alas, Ammons and his sidemen for this release are no longer with us (pianist Tommy Flanagan passed in 2001; bassist Doug Watkins in 1962; drummer Arthur Taylor in 1995; percussionist Ray Barretto in 2006) to enjoy themselves sounding energetic and so committed to the music.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Gene Ammons
  • CD Title: Boss Tenor
  • Genre: BeBop / Hard Bop
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Concord Music Group, Inc.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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