Recorded during the same two-day 1961 session as Up Tight! (but not released until a few years later, when Gene Ammons was in prison), Boss Soul is a mellow, ballad-heavy set. Ammons fronts a piano (Walter Bishop on side one, Patti Bown on side two), bass (Art Davis on side one, George Duvivier on side two), and drums (Art Taylor on both sessions) trio with light conga accompaniment by Ray Barretto, playing relaxed, post-Kind of Blue hard bop leavened with a cool West Coast jazz influence. Eddie Heywood's "Soft Summer Breeze," for example, is taken at an almost stately pace, with the interplay of Ammons and Bown recalling that of Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck. The ballad "Don't Go to Strangers" sounds like one of Gil Evans' Miles Davis arrangements, with a similarly light, almost spacy feel thanks to Bown's suspended piano chords and the near-ambient weightlessness of Taylor and Barretto's subtle percussion. Boss Soul is not a top-drawer Gene Ammons release, but it's thoroughly enjoyable throughout.
Boss Soul Review
by Stewart Mason