Top Artists – Gene Ammons

Gene Ammons – Blue Gene

More Gene Ammons

More Jazz Recordings Featuring the Saxophone

  • This wonderful Prestige jazz classic boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • One of the best sounding Ammons records we know of – it’s huge, rich and Tubey Magical, with a solid bottom end and bluesy jazz energy like no other
  • Clean and clear and open are nice qualities to have, but rich and full are harder to come by on this record – this pressing has it all
  • “Some ballad performances in his oeuvre are a testament to an exceptional sense of intonation and melodic symmetry, powerful lyrical expressiveness, and mastery both of the blues and the bebop vernacular that can now be described as, in its own way, ‘classical.'”

For us audiophiles, both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1958 All Tube Analog recording by Rudy Van Gelder on Prestige can sound, this killer copy will do the trick.

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Gene Ammons ‎– The Happy Blues on OJC

Some OJC Pressings Sound Good, Some Don’t

This One Doesn’t

Typical bad OJC sound – thin and modern, lacking in the Tubey Magic that makes vintage pressings so musically involving.

This album is fairly common on the OJC pressing from the ’80s, but we found the sound of the OJC pressings we played seriously wanting. They have the kind of bad reissue sound that that plays right into the prejudices of most record collectors and audiophiles for whom nothing but an original will do. They were dramatically smaller, flatter, more recessed and more lifeless than even the worst of the ’70s LPs we played.

The lesson? Not all reissues are created equal. Some OJC pressings are great — including even some of the new ones — some are awful, and the only way to judge them fairly is to judge them individually, which requires actually playing a large sample.

Since virtually no record collectors or audiophiles like doing that, they make faulty judgments – OJC’s are cheap reissues sourced from digital tapes, run for the hills! – based on their biases and reliance on inadequate sample sizes.

You can find those who subscribe to this approach on every audiophile forum there is. The methods they have adopted do not produce good results, but as long as they stick to them they will never have to worry about discovering that inconvenient truth.


FURTHER READING

Potentially Good Sounding OJC Pressings

Not Very Good Sounding OJC Pressings

Gene Ammons – Angel Eyes

  • This original Prestige stereo LP has Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound from beginning to end – fairly quiet vinyl for an original pressing
  • Both sides here are doing justice to Rudy Van Gelder’s live-in-the-studio sound – they were bigger, richer, more Tubey Magical, with more space, more energy, more everything that makes a vintage analog pressing the thrill we know it can be
  • For half the album “Ammons is heard in 1962 with pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Ed Thigpen playing with great warmth on the ballads “You Go to My Head” and “It’s the Talk of the Town.” The latter set was one of Ammons’ final ones before serving a long prison sentence (drug-related), yet his interpretations are full of optimism. Recommended.”

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Gene Ammons – Blue Gene – Soulful Jazz at Its Best

More of the Music of Gene Ammons

More Recordings by Rudy Van Gelder

For us audiophiles both the sound and the music here are wonderful. If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good a 1958 All Tube Analog Prestige recording by Rudy Van Gelder can sound, this killer copy will do the trick.

This pressing is super spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how it ever came to be that anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.

This IS the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There is, of course, a CD of this album, but those of us who possess a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl could care less.

What We Listen For on Blue Gene

The best copies are rich and tubey; many pressings were thin and modern sounding, and for that they would lose a lot of points. We want this record to sound like something RVG recorded in 1958, and the best copies give you that sound, without the surface noise and groove damage the originals doubtless suffer from.

Some copies have much more space; some are more present, putting the musicians right in the room with you; some are more transparent, resolving the musical information much better than others, letting you “see” everyone in the studio clearly. Some have more rhythmic drive than others. On some the musicians seem more involved and energetic than they do on the average pressing.

The copies that do all these things better than other copies are the ones that win our shootouts.

This is clearly one of the better copies we have ever played. We think you will enjoy it immensely. And watch for more Gene Ammons records coming to the site soon. With RVG at the board his recordings are often superb.

The Players

Gene Ammons – tenor saxophone
Idrees Sulieman – trumpet
Pepper Adams – baritone saxophone
Mal Waldron – piano
Doug Watkins – bass
Art Taylor – drums
Ray Barretto – congas

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Blue Gene 
Scamperin’

Side Two

Blue Greens ‘N Beans 
Hip Tip

AMG Review

The final of his series of jam sessions for Prestige features an excellent septet (the leader on tenor, trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, baritonist Pepper Adams, pianist Mal Waldron, bassist Doug Watkins, drummer Art Taylor and Ray Barretto on congas) stretching out on three original blues and the ballad “Hip Tip”; all four pieces were written by Waldron. Few surprises occur but everyone plays up to their usual high level. … enjoyable, straightahead…

Playing Style

Ammons and Von Freeman were the founders of the Chicago school of tenor saxophone. Ammons’s style of playing showed influences from Lester Young as well as Ben Webster. These artists had helped develop the sound of the tenor saxophone to higher levels of expressiveness. Ammons, together with Dexter Gordon and Sonny Stitt, helped integrate their developments with the emerging “vernacular” of the bebop movement, and the chromaticism and rhythmic variety of Charlie Parker is evident in his playing.

While adept at the technical aspects of bebop, in particular its love of harmonic substitutions, Ammons more than Young, Webster or Parker, stayed in touch with the commercial blues and R&B of his day.

The soul jazz movement of the mid-1960s, often using the combination of tenor saxophone and Hammond B3 electric organ, counts him as a founder. With a thicker, warmer tone than Stitt or Gordon, Ammons could at will exploit a vast range of textures on the instrument, vocalizing it in ways that look forward to later artists like Stanley Turrentine, Houston Person, and even Archie Shepp. Ammons showed little interest, however, in the modal jazz of John Coltrane, Joe Henderson or Wayne Shorter that was emerging at the same time.

Some ballad performances in his oeuvre are testament to an exceptional sense of intonation and melodic symmetry, powerful lyrical expressiveness, and mastery both of the blues and the bebop vernacular that can now be described as, in its own way, “classical.”

Wikipedia

Gene Ammons / Sonny Stitt – Prime Cuts

 

  • This copy of Ammons and Stitt’s 1972 soulful mainstream bop collaboration boasts outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER on all four sides – fairly quiet vinyl too
  • Remarkable Tubey Magical richness, as well as the kind of immediacy and transparency that most copies failed to match
  • We’ve known this was a great sounding record for a very long time, and now we have the copy to prove it
  • 4 1/2 stars: “Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt always made for a perfect team… The two tenors (with Stitt doubling on alto) are heard at their most combative during these consistently exciting performances”

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Gene Ammons / Goodbye – Reviewed in 2010

If you want to know why Gene Ammons is considered one of the greats, skip the jam that starts out side one and go right to the ballad Alone Again (Naturally). Nobody played with more emotion than Gene Ammons. 

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
  • 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. (more…)