Gene Ammons’ All Stars with Jackie McLean & Mal Waldron – 2CD – Complete Recordings
These three albums are from a series of Gene Ammons-led sessions recorded for Prestige starting in 1955, when the tenor headed what amounted to the label’s house group in after-hours collaborations that, despite their take-no-prisoners approach, yielded much swinging and imaginative excitement. Amid the fierce blowing Ammons displays power and intensity, and Jackie McLean reveals his concern for linear development, exhibiting a warm tone and phrasing firmly based on Bird. Three great trumpet players are featured in these albums.
On Jammin’ with Gene, Donald Byrd is in incisive and in arresting form, and Art Farmer is his usual elegant, fluent self, both on this album and Funky, while Idrees Sulieman is lyrical and forceful on Jammin’ in Hi-Fi. Guitarist Kenny Burrell offers some typically fleet choruses on two of the sessions. On piano, Mal Waldron’s spare solos offer some piquant moments and leanly provocative statements, supported splendidly by Doug Watkins’ blues-rooted drive (he is replaced by the powerful Paul Chambers in the last date) and Art Taylor’s intelligent rhythmic patterns.
The last three bonus tracks on the second CD come from Ammons’ album The Happy Blues, again with Farmer, McLean and Taylor, but with pianist Duke Jordan instead of Waldron, and bassist Addison Farmer and Candido Camero on conga.
1. Not Really the Blues - 16:07 2. Jammin’ with Gene - 14:23 3. We'll Be Together Again - 4:31 4. Funky - 8:56 5. Pint Size - 12:20 6. Stella by Starlight - 8:52 7. King Size - 9:16
1. The Twister - 12:12 2. Four - 13:01 3. Pennies from Heaven - 13:00 4. Cattin’ - 11:59 5. The Happy Blues - 12:08 6. The Great Lie - 8:42 7. Madhouse - 6:42
CD 1 - Tracks 1-3, from the album
“Jammin’ with Gene” (Prestige PRLP7060)
CD 1 - Tracks 4-7, from the album
“Funky” (Prestige PRLP 7083)
CD 2 - Tracks 1-4, from the album
“Jammin’ in Hi-Fi with Gene Ammons”
(Prestige PRLP 7110)
CD 2 - Tracks 5-7, from the album
“The Happy Blues” (Prestige PRLP 7039)
on 'Jammin' with Gene':
Donald Byrd, Art Farmer (tp); Jackie McLean (as), Gene Ammons (ts); Mal Waldron (p); Doug Watkins (b); Art Taylor (d)
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, July 13, 1956
Art Farmer (tp), Jackie McLean (as), Gene Ammons (ts), Mal Waldron (p), Kenny Burrell (g), Doug Watkins (b), Art Taylor (d), Jimmy Mundy (arr)
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, January 11, 1957
on 'Jammin' in Hi-Fi':
Idrees Sulieman (tp), Jackie McLean (as), Gene Ammons (ts), Mal Waldron (p), Kenny Burrell (g), Paul Chambers (b), Art Taylor (d)
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, April 12, 1957
on 'The Happy Blues':
Art Farmer (tp), Jackie McLean (as), Gene Ammons (ts), Duke Jordan (p), Addison Farmer (b), Art Taylor (d), Candido Camero (conga)
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, April 23, 1956
Original recordings supervised by Bob Weinstock
All sessions engineered by Rudy Van Gelder
Original design & photos by Don Schlitten, Esmond Edwards, Reid Miles, John Hernansader & Tom Hannan
Since the maximum playing time of a CD is 80 minutes, it has been necessary to leave out the track “Can’t We Be Friends?” from the album “The Happy Blues.” It has been added as a bonus track on the 2-CD set “Gene Ammons All Stars” (FSR-798).
"Ah! There’s nothing like the big beefy sound of the “Texas Tenor” to cure whatever pains you have. I’m convinced if you could just take Gene Ammons’ tone and make a balm out of it and rub it into your muscles, you’d feel like you had a 30 minute massage.
The 1956-57 albums with Jackie McLean include three tunes with the golden trumpet of Art Farmer and Donald Byrd as everyone stretches out on a jam session over a pair of blues and Ammons holding court on an autumnal “We’ll Be Together Again.” Guitarist Kenny Burrell joins up with the band to replace Byrd and contributes some nice work on his title track “Funky” while Jimmy Mundy does some nice arranging of “Pint Size” and “King Size” to keep you alert. MacLean’s bright tone is filled with spice here. The 1957 Stereo Jammin’ session includes the underrated trumpet of Idrees Sulieman, still with Burrell in tow, and they let four songs ride for 11-13 minutes each. A boppin’ “Four” and a sauntering “Pennies from Heaven” are putty in the hands of these giants. Most of the 1956 The Happy Blues album is on this disc, with one track on the other set, with pianist Duke Jordan getting some space on the title track and Farmer glowing on “The Great Lie.” Not a weak nanosecond of sound."
George Harris -January 17, 2014