Idrees Sulieman, Art Farmer (tp), Gene Ammons, Paul Quinichette (ts), Jackie McLean, John Coltrane (as), Pepper Adams (bs), Jerome Richardson (fl), Mal Waldron, Duke Jordan (p), Doug Watkins, Addison Farmer (b), Art Taylor (d), Ray Barretto (perc)
Reference: FSRCD 798
Bar code: 8427328607988
The three albums included in this set come from two straightforward blowing sessions played by two outstanding all-star groups of jazzmen, under the leadership of muscular tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons. The organizing force behind these sessions was Mal Waldron, responsible for seven originals and the unpretentious charts on both datessimple, uncomplicated vehicles on which the players happily take flight.
On Blue Gene the horns complement each other in terms of style and tonal balance, with trumpeter Idrees Sulieman in bitingly good form and Pepper Adams contributing some tearaway baritone solos. The Waldron-Watkins-Taylor rhythm section, with Ray Barretto on congas, is strong and reliable. Full of soul, both Groove Blues and The Big Sound come from the same date, with much good blowing by Adams, Jerome Richardson adding his customary unhurried taste on flute, a pungent Paul Quinichette on tenor, and a self-confidently gutsy John Coltrane playing alto in his tenor style. Waldrons excellent and unobtrusive comping and soloing, propelled by Joyner and Taylors rhythm work, are other positives. And Ammons is as strong and sure of himself as ever, giving pleasure with his uncluttered, heated playing and sure sense of swing.
"Ah! Theres nothing like the big beefy sound of the Texas Tenor to cure whatever pains you have. Im convinced if you could just take Gene Ammons tone and make a balm out of it and rub it into your muscles, youd feel like you had a 30 minute massage.
The Complete Sessions with Adams are culled from three 1958 sessions, Blue Gene, Groove Blues and The Big Sound along with a single track from a 1956 album. A warm ballad like Hip Top mixes with blues such as Blue Greens n Beans which has some nice conga work by ray Barretto. John Coltrane shows up on on alto (!) show up for The Real McCoy and Jerome Richardsons flute floats along with Paul Quinichettes lighter than air tenor on the title track Groove Blues. Pepper Adams slithers and snaps on Thats All and you can palpate Ammons breath on Jug Handle and Blue Hymn. These two collections make you stop and wonder, who playing nowadays would I want to be on a jam session? The fact youre still waiting for a first candidate tells you more than anything else why you should grab this gem!"
—George Harris (January 17, 2014)