Gene Ammons

Twistin' the Jug

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As a general rule, any derivation of the word "Twist" in a jazz album title from the early '60s is a clue that at best one can look forward to some campy fun. Gene Ammons' 1961 session Twistin' the Jug features not only the powerhouse tenor playing at the top of his form, but a killer set of sidemen featuring the great Hammond organist "Brother" Jack McDuff and conga player Ray Barretto. The results, particularly on the supple, funky title track and a Latinized, uptempo version of the Duke Ellington standard "Satin Doll," are surprisingly appealing. The album title is clearly an inappropriate marketing tool; anyone attempting to do the Twist to the opening track, a slowed-down, funky blues take on "Stormy Monday," would nod off halfway through. Still, bad album title or not, this is a fun, listenable early soul-jazz session featuring two of the greats of the field.

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