Brandon Allen (tenor); Ross Stanley (piano/Rhodes/Hammond); Arnie Somogi (elec/acc. bass); Matt Home (drums).(Review by Lance).
As someone who first heard Gene Ammons blowing Seven-Eleven alongside Sonny Stitt on a still treasured Esquire 78 that was later followed up by a 10" LP on the same label, I viewed this CD by Brandon Allen with a mixture of anticipation - and fear!
Fantastic that one of today's leading UK tenor men saw fit to delve into Ammon's legacy but there was also the worry of whether or not he could he cut it.
I needn't have worried!Allen does Ammons proud. Not the fawning, lipservice, cloning that some of the Lester Youngsters did but a genuine grasp of what the man was all about. The tone is there, the ideas too but they're Allen's ideas even though we know where they're coming from.
I'd call this straight down the middle tenor playing. The blues, the funk and the soul are in there but so is the tenderness - listen to I Sold My Heart to the Junkman. Poignant!
The album covers two parts of Ammons career the 1950s to the early 1960s (Ammons was off the scene for most of the sixties) and the 1969-1972 period where his inspiration was derived as much from the r & b/soul scene as it was from what was happening in jazz at the time.
Allen absorbed all these elements to produce an album that, I'm sure, 'Jug' himself would have been proud of.
Of course, it goes without saying that with Stanley, Somogi and Home in the engine room, it would have been impossible for Allen not to be firing on all cylinders!
Tracks: (brackets indicate the year of the original recordings by Gene Ammons).
Please Baby, Won't You Please Say Yes? (51); The Breeze and I (61); Gerr-ru (69); You're Not the Kind (51); I Sold My Heart to the Junkman (61); Piece to Keep Away Evil Spirits (70); Ben (72); The Black Cat (70); Lucille (72); Son of a Preacher Man (69).
Over the years, I've played a lot of Gene Ammons and, in the years to come (looks towards heaven), I'll be playing a lot of Brandon Allen.Lance