An average `jug', but well `farmed',
This review is from: Gene Ammons - Art Farmer All Stars: Complete Jam Sessions (Audio CD)
I've never had a problem with jam sessions on record, as such. It's never been difficult or indeed expensive to get a bunch of jazz musicians together in a studio on the back of little if any rehearsal and the agreement to stick to the changes of "Lady Be Good" or "How High The Moon", and the informality of the music on these two discs lends substance to that, albeit without the adherence to those changes.
Of the two principals Farmer is consistently in better form. His elegance on "Woofin' & Tweetin'" catches the ear and doesn't let it go, while Ammons' contribution is comparatively lacklustre. For poor measure the quotes in Lou Donaldson's alto sax solo are just irritating.
"The Happy Blues" is more or less exactly what it claims to be and features amongst other things Jackie McLean taking fewer liberties with pitch than he usually did.
In the theme statement of "We'll Be Together Again" Ammons seems to be trying for a wilfully eccentric tag, but it doesn't work. His efforts leave pianist Mal Waldron, a man whose ruminative muse was hardly suited to the average jam session, thus falls to topping and tailing Ammons' phrasing while perhaps hoping that he might at some point get more straightforwardly rhapsodic; he doesn't, and when the tempo goes up it has the effect of making the performance a little disjointed.
"Funky" is unsurprisingly.....er.....funky, in the sense that it's a vehicle for wailing or some other staple beloved of a lot of jazz critics in the 1950s. Ammons `shadows' Ben Webster in his work on this one, albeit without that master's array of personal touches or indeed any hint that his musicianship might change through time in the way that Webster's did. Farmer, bless him, is anything but......er....funky, and because he isn't his contribution sticks the most.
So this casually put together body of music ultimately commands no more than a casual response. With the exception of Farmer's and Waldron's contributions I wouldn't feel deprived if I never heard it again, so they represent two of the three stars, while the other one's awarded for the collective efforts of everyone else.