The Gene Ammons Story: Gentle Jug

  • Superb Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish for this Moodsville Classic – on fairly quiet vinyl too! 
  • These two killer Rudy Van Gelder recordings capture the truly wonderful sound of Ammons’ smooth, rich, breathy, bluesy sax
  • The transfers from 1977 by David Turner are in tune with the sound of these wonderful mono recordings
  • We love the reverb RVG placed on the drums here – it’s sounds just right for a classic jazz album from the ’60s 
  • “…the tradition of the tenor ballad was fully defined by Gene Ammons and Ben Webster… this [album] is the source of a tradition. One of the absolute necessities to any jazz collection.”

This Prestige Two-Fer Double LP features WONDERFUL sound and music. Those of you who have been customers for more than ten years may remember an OJC label called Moodsville. Moodsville was a subsidiary of Prestige designed to emphasize ballads and other relaxed melodic material, mostly derived from the great American songwriters.

Gene Ammons made a number of records for Moodsville and this album combines two of the best: Nice An’ Cool and The Soulful Mood Of Gene Ammons. The liner notes talk at length about how perfectly suited he was to both the label and the material. He was such an accomplished musician that he had no need to show off but instead was able to explore these songs using relaxed ballad tempos. The result is pure emotion, exploring the heart of the music in the purest, simplest, most unadorned way. It’s just Gene, piano, bass and drums. That’s pretty much all he needed.

The sound is Rudy Van Gelder at his best. You can hear the breath coming through the horn beautifully. I also like the amount of echo Rudy puts on the drums. It sounds just right for a classic jazz album. He created that sound.

The Gentle Jug Himself – How Can You Go Wrong?

What the best sides of this pair of Classic Jazz Albums have to offer is clear for all to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl domestic pressings like this one offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1977
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the keyboards, guitars and drums having the correct sound for this kind of recording
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now

Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Shootout Criteria (What To Listen For)

What are sonic qualities by which a Jazz recording — any Jazz recording — should be judged? Pretty much the ones we discuss in most of our Hot Stamper listings: energy, frequency extension (on both ends), transparency, spaciousness, harmonic textures (freedom from smear is key), rhythmic drive, tonal correctness, fullness, richness, three-dimensionality, and on and on down the list.

When we can get most of the qualities we mention above to come together on the side we’re playing, we provisionally award it a Hot Stamper grade, which may or may not be revised over the course of the shootout as we hear what the various other copies sound like. Once we’ve been through all our side ones, we then play the best of the best against each other and arrive at a winner. Other copies have their grades raised or lowered depending on how they sounded relative to the shootout winner. Repeat the process for the other side and the shootout is officially over. All that’s left is to see how the sides of each pressing match up.

That’s why the most common grade for a White Hot stamper pressing is Triple Plus (A+++) on one side and Double Plus (A++) on the other. Finding the two best sounding sides from a shootout on the same LP certainly does happen, but is sure doesn’t happen as often as we would like (!) — there are just too many variables in the mastering and pressing processes to insure consistent quality.

It may not be rocket science, but it’s a science of a kind, one with strict protocols that we’ve developed over the course of many years to insure that the results we arrive at are as accurate as we can make them.

The result of all our work speaks for itself, on this very record in fact. We guarantee you have never heard this music sound better than it does on our Hot Stamper pressing — or your money back.


Side One

Till There Was You
Answer Me, My Love
Willow Weep For Me
Little Girl Blue

Side Two

Something I Dreamed Last Night
Something Wonderful
I Remember You
Someone To Watch Over Me

Side Three

Two Different Worlds
But Beautiful
Three Little Words

Side Four

On The Street Of Dreams
You’d Be So Nice To Come Home
Under A Blanket Of Blue
I’m Glad There’s You

Rave Review

I’m a tenor player and a very serious jazz fan and I consider this to be one of the all-time great albums of the genre. Jug is the source of a tradition – the tenor balladeer.

In opera, its Caruso before Pavoratti. In jazz tenor ballads, it’s Ben Webster and Gene Ammons before all others. After Hawk’s ‘Body and Soul,’ the tradition of the tenor ballad was fully defined by Gene Ammons and Ben Webster.

Jug knew how to love and how to cry. Spent a lot of years in jail persecuted for his drug habit. His pain and his blues come through these classic ballads. He doesn’t try to pretty them up with virtuosity: just straight story-telling, which is what a ballad is.

If it hadn’t been for this recording, there would never have been a Houston Person or Scott Hamilton: probably no Coltrane Ballad album either. This [album] is the source of a tradition. One of the absolute necessities to any jazz collection.

-A.K.L., Amazon Reviewer