Gene Ammons

Greatest Hits: The 70s

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Assembled in 1998 for Fantasy's Original Jazz Classics series, Greatest Hits: The 70s offers a sample of recordings that Gene Ammons made during the first two years after his release from prison in 1969. The collection, which spans 1969-1971, draws on five of Ammons' Prestige albums from that period: The Boss Is Back, Brother Jug, The Black Cat, You Talk That Talk, and My Way. None of the tenor titan's 1972-1974 recordings are included -- and for that reason, Fantasy probably should have called this release Greatest Hits: The 70s, Vol. 1, and followed it up with a Vol. 2 focusing on 1972-1974. At any rate, the material on this 56-minute CD ranges from excellent to merely decent. "Jungle Strut" and "The Jungle Boss" are soul-jazz gems, and "Didn't We" is a fine example of Ammons' expressive ballad playing. Meanwhile, Ammons' versions of "My Way" (a song that Sinatra defined) and the Linda Ronstadt hit "Long Long Time" are pleasant but hardly essential -- both performances would have been better off without Bill Fischer's commercial string arrangement. Unfortunately, two of the tracks are not listed in their correct order; Fantasy lists "My Way" as the eighth track and "Chicago Breakdown" as the ninth, but it's actually the other way around. Nonetheless, Greatest Hits: The 70s has more plusses than minuses -- and, most of the time, it paints an attractive picture of Ammons' late period.

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