Gene Ammons / April 14, 1925 - July 23, 1974

Here's a birthday nod to the soulful tenor man Gene Ammons. "Jug" was one of the fathers of the soul-jazz genre and was a popular and prolific recording artist before spending most of his last fifteen years incarcerated on drug charges.

He was the son of pianist Albert Ammons and he studied with the infamous Captain Walter Dyett in Chicago and joined the Billy Eckstein band in '44, blowing in that group with Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon. From '47 onward he led his own groups and sessions, which would employ future greats such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Donald Byrd, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Burrell, Jackie McLean and others.

He had a big hit in '50 with "My Foolish Heart". He also played with Woody Herman and Charles Mingus. The Santana band used to cover (live and on their 3rd album) his tune "Jungle Strut". He blew bebop, ballads, and funky R&B and played in a variety of settings from big bands to organ combos to jam sessions. He spent a good ten years as one of the top names in jazz before the problems got the best of him. He died of cancer in '74.

Title cut to Funky, '57 (Prestige):

From Blue Gene, '58 (Prestige):

And here's the OG "Jungle Strut", from Brother Jug ('70-Prestige):

Tagged: blues, Celebrate Icons, Chicago, Gene Ammons, jazz, reeds, soul!

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