Gene Ammons

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Eugene "Gene" Ammons (born April 14, 1925 in Chicago , Illinois ; † August 6, 1974 ibid) was an American jazz musician of African American descent. He played the tenor saxophone and led his own bands. Ammons performed in various formations, from quartet to larger all-star casts to big bands and made numerous records. Together with the somewhat older Von Freeman , he initiated the Chicago school of tenor saxophonists who further developed the style of Lester Young and Ben Webster . In doing so, they influenced other soloists such as Johnny Griffin and Clifford Jordan .

Live and act

Gene Ammons was the son of Albert Ammons ', the famous Boogie - pianist . His long career spanned from the 1940s to the 1970s. In 1943 he toured with trumpeter King Kolax . From 1944 to 1947 he played with Billy Eckstine and His Orchestra (from this time there is the famous recording Blowing the Blues Away in a duet / competition with Dexter Gordon ), but has also recorded with his own groups; he had a hit in 1947 with Red Top in the R&B charts . In 1949 he was Stan Getz's successor in the Four Brothers section of Woody Herman’s second herd , where he was known for his tenor duels with Sonny Stitt . Other famous tenor duels ( battles ) with Sonny Stitt were recorded in a septet conducted by both of them between 1950 and 1952, such as "Blues Up and Down".

In the mid-1950s he recorded a few singles for United and led all-star bands with changing line-ups. a. Art Farmer , Jackie McLean and Donald Byrd played along. In 1960 he had hits with Canadian Sunset and Hittin the Jug (both on the album Boss Tenors ) and in 1962 he gave his powerful voice version of the Bossa Nova (album Bad! Bossa Nova ). 1958–1960 and 1962–1969 he was in prison for drug offenses (he was addicted to heroin). In some cases he had apparently been "tricked" by the police and prosecutors (the 1962 sentence was 15 years), but was treated relatively well in Statesville Prison in Illinois - he headed the prison band. Since he was banned from performing in New York, he gave his comeback concert in 1969 at the Plugged Nickel in Chicago (album The Boss Is Back ). In February 1972 he was a star guest at the Charles Mingus and Friends in Concert concert ; In 1973 he performed with Dexter Gordon, Cannonball Adderley and his own band at the Montreux Jazz Festival and then in July in Åhus in Sweden (album In Sweden ).

Ammons played with a very gripping, voluminous and melodic tone. While he was not a major innovator, due to his characteristic sound, which was easily recognizable in both powerfully played blues and romantic ballads , he gained great popularity with audiences. Ira Gitler attested that it sounded like a 15-story skyscraper . His style of playing was strongly influenced by rhythm and blues , but he also occasionally played technically virtuoso bebop (as in the Eckstine Band). With the advent of bossa nova in the early 1960s, like many of his jazz colleagues, he dealt with South American rhythms. He was one of the few jazz musicians who maintained their popularity over several decades and was even able to record commercially successful hits again and again. He was one of the first musicians to integrate the soul organ into jazz. Especially with his recordings in the style of soul jazz , he was very successful in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Gene Ammons was also known to musicians and fans under the nickname Jug . Because of his dominant sound on the saxophone, he was sometimes called The Boss . His most important recordings appeared on the record label Prestige Records , with which he was under contract from the late 1940s.

In 1974 he collapsed while performing at Buddy's Place in New York (along with Sonny Stitt, with whom he was still able to duel). The diagnosis was bone cancer , and he died during treatment at the hospital at a pneumonia .

The last piece he recorded was called Goodbye (shortly before he was informed of his illness).

Discographic notes

  • Young Jug , 1948-1952, Chess
  • Blues Up and Down , 1950, Prestige
  • The Happy Blues , 1956, Prestige
  • Blue Gene , 1958, Prestige, Original Jazz Classics
  • Boss Tenor , 1960, Prestige
  • Groovin 'with Jug , 1961, Pacific Jazz Records
  • Boss Tenors , 1961, Verve
  • Bath! Bossa Nova , 1962, Prestige
  • The Boss Is Back! , 1969, Prestige
  • Goodbye , 1974, Prestige
  • In 2012 the Verve label released a CD with 16 of his songs as part of the Jazzplus series .

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