One of the giants of boogie-woogie piano, Albert Ammons' career was cut short by his untimely death in 1949 at the age of just 42. This Document CD compilation is a welcome addition to his legacy, as it collects rare and mostly previously unissued alternate takes, broadcasts and private home recordings. The first two tracks, "Nagasaki" and "Early Morning' Blues," feature Albert Ammons & His Rhythm Kings, with trumpeter Guy Kelly and alto saxophonist Dalbert Bright (who switches to clarinet for the latter song). A later of edition of the group features trumpeter Hot Lips Page, trombonist Vic Dickenson, tenor saxophonist Don Byas, drummer Sidney Cattlet and bassist Israel Crosby (the latter who took part in the earlier recordings), Dickenson takes solo honors on "Bottom Blues No. 2." Ammons guests with Benny Goodman & His Orchestra (with vocals by Johnny Mercer) for an upbeat (if watered down) take of "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie"; Meade "Lux" Lewis is announced as a second pianist, but is not audible. Of most interest to collectors will be the numerous solo tracks by Ammons, particularly "Whistlin' Blues," where he shows off his whistling ability. While the sound quality varies widely, as some of the privately recorded transcription discs show signs of wear, the rarity of this music and the detailed liner notes will make it an essential purchase for boogie-woogie fans.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden