For nearly a quarter-century, beginning in 1950, tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons (1925-1974) was among the brightest stars in the Prestige Records firmament. Whether leading, or partaking in, one of Prestige’s jam sessions, immersing himself in the organ-dominated blues and gospel grooves that in the 1950s came to be called "soul jazz," or digging deep for heart-rending ballads, Ammons was multiply masterful. And in 1960, leading a quintet featuring the impeccable pianist Tommy Flanagan, plus Ray Barretto’s piquant congas, he produced the insuperable Boss Tenor.
From the blues that drips from "Hittin’ the Jug" and "Blue Ammons" to the infectious medium bounce of the standards "Close Your Eyes" and "Canadian Sunset," and from the sophisticated swing of "Stompin’ at the Savoy" to the finger-poppin’ bop of "Confirmation" and the after-hours balladry of "My Romance," Boss Tenor has something for everyone claiming to be a fan of modern jazz.
"I was the engineer on the recording sessions and I also made the masters for the original LP issues of these albums. Since the advent of the CD, other people have been making the masters. Mastering is the final step in the process of creating the sound of the finished product. Now, thanks to the folks at the Concord Music Group who have given me the opportunity to remaster these albums, I can present my versions of the music on CD using modern technology. I remember the sessions well, I remember how the musicians wanted to sound, and I remember their reactions to the playbacks. Today, I feel strongly that I am their messenger."
—Rudy Van Gelder