Gene Ammons / Sonny Stitt

Boss Tenors: Straight Ahead from Chicago August 1961

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Tenor saxophonists Gene Ammons and Sonny Stitt co-led a small group in 1950, and this follow-up, taped in the studio in 1961, finds the two picking up where they left off. The highlight of the date is the jointly written "Blues up and Down," a classic jam which has since inspired a number of other tenor match ups to record it, especially Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Johnny Griffin. Ammons' repetitious one-note melody within "The One Before This," like Duke Ellington's deceptively simple two-note theme "C Jam Blues," leads to some inspired improvising by both men. Stitt switches to alto sax for a loping take of "There Is No Greater Love," during which Ammons' tenor provides the perfect foil. The rhythm section includes bassist Buster Williams, along with the somewhat obscure pianist John Houston and drummer George Brown. This rewarding date has become hard to find since this 1992 CD reissue lapsed from print.

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