Recorded in New York City: May 2, 1958
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. This enjoyable straightahead CD is a reissue of the original LP.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
========= from the cover ==========
Anyone who has listened to jazz for an appreciable length of time has recollections stored up which are released in a ticker-tape stream across the mind when a name of any particular musician is mentioned. As I prepared to write this liner about Gene Ammons, phrases and incidents concerning him began flashing into my head.
Gene in the Billy Eckstine band - Blowin' The Bluet Away, Cool Breeze, Jitney Man ... pictures in old Metronomes - some tribute to a musician onstage at the Apollo Theater - lineup of guest stars - part of the caption read something like, "Eugene Ammons, tenor-playing son of Albert Ammons" - another shot of Eckstine's band climbing twelve flights of stairs to record during elevator strike - Gene in foreground - Navarro, Blakey and Tommy Potter also in view ... record playing in Main Stem (long gone Broadway record shop) - Red Top with Gail Brockman on trumpet - another record Dues In Blues with soulful alto by Flaps Dungee - other Ammons records - Junior Mance on piano, Ernie McDonald on baritone - once saw Ernie McDonald at the Regal Theater in Chicago come sliding out from his chair in a big-band to take a wild tenor solo to a frantic cockatoo, appearing on the same bill, which had gotten loose from its owner backstage ... in R.O.T.C. at college - walking across field to drill class - tenor wailing over speaker system from which martial music usually was emanating - sounded like Allen Eager to me - advanced immediately to field shack to find sergeant playing St. Louis Blues by the Ammonses, pere et fils ... Birdland's opening show - Christmastime 1949 - Gene doing a single with a rhythm section from another group - played a Pres-like I Can't Give You Anything But Love ... Birdland again - about a year later - Jug (his nickname - short for Jughead) battling it out with Sonny Stitt on Blues Up And Down ... in the recording studio - the old Apex on West 57th - in between takes - Gene marching all around the room blowing all the while with his big, fat sound - the rhythm section just sitting there digging him - too bad the cutting machine (pre-tape) wasn't going .. sitting in drug store with Bob Wein-stock - eating lunch - boxes of Ammens Foot Powder caught our eyes - chortled about this reminder of Jug ... another friend used to call him Mr. Ammonia - no valid connection with Gene - that cat just likes to play with words - he must have called him Gene Almonds at one time or another too ...
Of course, Gene Ammons' more recent activities, his second trip aboard the Prestige ship, entered my mind too. These have included a series of jam sessions, recorded exclusively for LP, during the years 1955 through 1958. In these sessions, Gene has been surrounded by all star groups peopled by musicians like Art Farmer, Donald Byrd, Jackie McLean, Lou Donaldson, Paul Quinichette, Jerome Richardson, Duke Jordan, John Coltrane and Kenny Burreli. This set is no exception and all but one of the supporting cast have accompanied him in one or more of his previous Prestige outings.
Idrees Sulieman, he of the volatile trumpet, was a collaborator in Jammin' In Hi Fi With Gene Ammons (7110). Idrees' favorite trumpeters are Dizzy Gillespie and Clifford Brown. The bent of his playing, although very personal, shows where he comes from. Born into a musical family of St. Petersburg, Florida in 1923, Idrees first impressed listeners in the New York area with his playing in the groups of Sid Catlett and Thelonious Monk in the mid-Forties. He has had big band experience with Calloway, Hampton, Hines, Basie and Gillespie, among others. Recently, he has been free-lancing around New York.
Detroit's gift to the baritone saxophone, Pepper Adams, was a member of the last Ammons outing, The Big Sound (7132). Pepper's first experience was gathered in Rochester, N. Y. as a tenor player. (Incidentally, his 1930 birthplace was Highland Park, Illinois, not Detroit as I, and some others, have erroneously stated in the past.) In Detroit he began playing bari and worked with Lucky Thompson, Jimmy Richardson and, later, Kenny Burreli. His horn was brought to the attention of the jazz public-at-large with the orchestras of Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson in 1956-57. 1958 found him at the head of his own group at both the Five Spot Cafe and the Great South Bay Jazz Festival.
Mal Waldron, Billie Holiday's accompanist and a group leader in his own right (on Prestige and, occasionally, in person), has contributed to four previous Ammons ambles. Mal, as a writer and player, graced Jammin' With Gene (7060), Funky (7083) and the two mentioned for Sulieman and Adams. For Blue Gene, he wrote all the lines, including the ballad, Hip Tip. Usually, Gene plays a standard for his ballad offering.
Bassist Doug Watkins, a veteran of many Prestige dates, can count 7060 and 7083 among his recording souvenirs. Doug, who has been heard with Art Blakey and Horace Silver, recently returned from several months of playing in Europe.
Art Taylor was the drummer with the same European touring group (Donald Byrd was another member) as Watkins. A. T. has probably appeared on Prestige more than any other musician. He has been on every Ammons session but one. Art and Doug are a good team, as their many appearances on this label will bear out.
Added to the team for this LB (long blowing) is congero Ray Barretto. Those of you who heard Ray in Red Garland's Manteca (7139) are well aware of his qualities as a jazz conga player. More than any other performer on this Latin drum, he understands its use in a jazz context. Ray has played with Tito Puente, Pete Terrace et al but was sitting in with jazz combos before he ever played with these Latin bands.
The happy-sad, slow blues, Blue Gene opens the set followed by the fast blues, Scamperin'. The second side has still another blues; this rime it is in a medium-funk groove, appropriately titled Blue Greens 'N Beans. The minor-keyed ballad, Hip Tip, closes the set. Since there is only one man for each type of instrument, you will have no trouble identifying the soloists. Everyone but Taylor and Barretto, gets a chance to blow at length in what is a relaxed, yet inspired, session. Although Art and Ray don't solo, they demonstrate, throughout, that they know what swinging is all about.
- Ira Gitler