This fourth installment in the Classics Gene Ammons chronology sews together everything recorded and released under his name for the Prestige, Decca, and United record labels between June 1951 and June 1953. Instrumental highlights, in addition to Ammons' sensually charged tenor saxophone, include Sonny Stitt on supporting tenor (on tracks 13-16, Stitt plays baritone sax); trombonist J.J. Johnson (tracks 13-16); and trumpeter supreme Johnny Coles, who was destined to make outstanding records with James Moody and Charles Mingus (tracks 17-24). This particular slice of Gene Ammons' career is delightfully gutsy and easy to relate to. The Prestige material is classic Jug; his brief involvement with Decca is a thrilling sideshow, and those sanguine, sultry, scruffy sides for Chicago's tiny United record label are precious artifacts of inestimable worth. Note that the rocking "Jim Dawgs" is an entirely different entity from a similarly titled bop exercise recorded by Ike Quebec for Savoy Records in August of 1945. During his heyday, Gene Ammons represented the perfect blend of swing, bop, and R&B. This wonderful compilation presents a healthy stripe of vivid material from his label-hopping period during the years immediately preceding the Eisenhower era.
AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf