Recording Date: Feb 18, 1962
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt + Organ recorded in New York February 1962.
All Music Guide
========= from the cover ==========
Straight ahead from New York, the swinging, rocking Boss Tenors are coupled with a steaming rhythm section and an exciting organ sound to shoot them to greater heights than Yuri Gagarin or Col. John Glenn! The Boss Tenors are riding high with another program of great standards and originals played in a style that just won't let up!
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt, Boss Tenors; Donald Patterson, organ; William James, drums; Paul Weeden, guitar.
One of the most exciting and rewarding listening experiences on jazz records was released last year following a recording caper straight ahead out of Chicago in late summer. That was Boss Tenors . It merged the giant talents and natural swing of Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt.
The album was recorded because the Boss Tenors had once been co-leaders of their own group, and had blown each other right off the stand, night after night. Each is a distinctive stylist. Each plays driving tenor sax. And each man stays right in there, chorus after chorus.
The reunion exceeded everyone's wildest dreams. Boss Tenors was a swinging album and a best-seller.
Now Ammons and Stitt are reunited again. And this time, they've got Sonny's cooking rhythm section - complete with the rocking organ ot Donald Patterson - laying the foundation for their tenor sax masterworks.
Gene Ammons is Chicago born and bred, son of the famous boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons. In his mid-thirties, Gene has had a rich and varied career in jazz. At the age of eighteen he was a member of the famed King Kolax band. He popped into the jazz limelight with his driving tenor work on the Billy Eckstine big band during the mid-1940s. Gene succeeded Stan Getz in Woody Herman's band in 1949, and held that chair with ease. In 1950 he formed a group with Sonny Stitt and toured the country, thrilling jazz fans with the interplay of two top horns.
Sonny Stitt, also in his mid-thirties, is a Boston boy. Like Ammons, Sonny springs from a musical family: His brother was a concert pianist and his father a college music professor. Sonny drew national attention by his work with the Tiny Bradshaw band, and later with Dizzy Gillespie. After sharing the bandstand with Gene Ammons for two years. Sonny became a regular for several seasons on the Jazz at the Philharmonic tours. His Verve albums are an excellent indication of the growth he has experienced on both alto and tenor.
The last time the Boss Tenors were together, they recorded for Verve in Chicago. This time, the scene shifted to New York, but the same fervor and feeling are still present. In fact, with the rocking base of organ sound prodding the soloists, the tenor men cut loose in a typically Boss Tenor fashion for a program of listenable, even danceabk, jazz. Sonny was on the left and Gene on the right all the way through.
"Long Ago and Far Away" - This lovely ballad gets a really danceable treatment from the Boss Tenors. After a brief organ intro, Gene takes the first eight bars of the song at a dreamy tempo. Sonny follows with the second eight in the same vein. Ammons comes back for eight more, then Sonny finishes the chorus. Gene whoops into the first part of the second chorus, giving way to Sonny, who blows forcefully for the next eight bars. Ammons takes another eight, then the Boss Tenors blow harmony for the final eight. Almost as an afterthought, they tack on a series of runs and phrases before finishing the piece.
"Walkin"' -The popular standard in jazz is taken at a cooking tempo by the Boss Tenors. Gene opens the soloing with three choruses. Sonny takes three that sizzle. Paul Weeden's guitar makes its solo debut here for a full chorus, followed by Donald Pattersons jumping organ for another. The ensemble wraps it up. "Why Was I Born?"-The favorite ballad is handled in typical Boss Tenor style. Sonny blows melody for the first sixteen bars, with Gene filling in comments and little embellishments. Then Gene takes the melody and Sonny blows the fills. Patterson takes two big choruses on organ, then Gene and Sonny follow with two apiece. The ensemble starts to end the piece when Ammons hops in for eight bars, the ensemble takes eight, then Sonny jumps in for a fast four before everybody wraps it up.
"John Brown's Body" -The Boss Tenors open this old folk song together, but things get moving when Gene takes four choruses. Sonny, whose tone is harder and brighter than Genes softer and deeper sound, takes five choruses. Then Gene comes back to start a round of eight-bar exchanges. This leads to a series of four-bar exchanges, then gets down to where the boys are throwing two-bars back and forth. They start to take it out in ensemble, then split away for several go-rounds of rolling figures, starting with Sonny.
"Bye-Bye, Blackbird" - A brief organ introduction gets this old popular favorite off the ground. Sonny solos first, taking eight bars. Gene takes over for the next eight. Sonny blows the bridge, and Gene takes the final eight before jumping into three full choruses. Sonny picks up Gene's last note and parlays it into three choruses. Then the Boss Tenors take a series of eight-bar exchanges for three and a half choruses, then they split the bridge and take the last eight bars together. But just as everything seems all wrapped up, they get involved in a dazzling series of final runs and phrases before finally finishing the piece.