Gene Ammons

Soulful Moods of Gene Ammons

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A companion to Gene Ammons' other release on Moodsville, 1961's Nice 'n Cool, 1963's Soulful Moods of Gene Ammons picks a slightly less familiar batch of ballads (Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark," for example, or Jimmy Van Heusen's "But Beautiful") but performs them in the same soloist-plus-trio format, with pianist Patti Bown, bassist George Duvivier, and future Tonight Show stalwart Ed Shaughnessy taking on accompanist duties. It's a solid album throughout, with all four players performing well, but there's a certain spark missing in comparison with Nice 'n Cool. In particular, Bown -- who recorded with Ammons many times in the late '50s and '60s -- sounds a little off on this session. Her fills are uncharacteristically distracting, and particularly in tandem with the minimalistic style of Duvivier and Shaughnessy (who on some tracks, particularly the lissome "Under a Blanket of Blue," is playing so softly that he's barely audible), it sounds like she's overplaying. Ammons himself is typically excellent: few tenors in the '60s had his way with a ballad.

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