While Gene Ammons may be best known for his jam sessions and his canny, organic fusion of bebop and rhythm 'n' blues, he was also a forceful leader, as well as a wonderful duelist with favorite foil Sonny Stitt. The 14 selections here span the appropriately feline "The Black Cat," a luminous reading of the Beatles' "Something," and zesty cuts pitting the big-toned Jug against the tarter, quicker-styled Stitt and a welcome leavening of funk and soul. Cut toward the end of Ammons's career, the tracks represent the mature Jug. His lines unfurl majestically and melodically buoyed by his giant tone and the warm-heartedness of his improvisations. The material includes pop, in covers of hits for Linda Ronstadt and Ray Charles; blues, in an update of Willie Dixon's "My Babe"; and bebop, in such tunes as the Ammons original "Hi Ruth!" and Stitt's frisky "Katea's Dance."
The Black Cat, Long Long Time, Pieces to Keep Away Evil Spirits, Jug Eyes, Something, Hi Ruth!, You Talk That Talk, Body and Soul, The People's Choice, Katea's Dance, The Sun Died, Out of It, I Can't Stop Loving You, My Babe
with George Freeman, Harold Mabern, Ron Carter, Idris Muhammad, Sonny Stitt, Leon Spencer, Don Patterson, Paul Weeden, Billy James
Recorded May 1962, November 1970, and February 1971.