Today's Memory

Today’s Memory – Gene Ammons

14 - Gene-Ammons-1925-1974

Gene AmmonsGene Ammons

April 14, 1925, Chicago, Illinois – July 23, 1974, Chicago


Eugene „Jug” Ammons also known as The Boss, was an American jazz tenor saxophonist, and the son of boogie-woogie pianist Albert Ammons.

Gene Ammons is remembered for his accessible music, steeped in soul and R&B. Ammons and Von Freeman were the founders of the Chicago School of Tenor Saxophone. 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 stayed in touch with the commercial blues and R&B of his day. For example, in 1950 the saxophonist’s recording of My Foolish Heart made Billboard Magazine‘s black pop charts. 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.

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Gene Ammons – The Happy Blues 1956 (Full Album)


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