Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt: We'll Be Together Again
We'll Be Together Again
We'll Be Together Again (Original Jazz Classics 708-2)
John Houston (piano), Buster Williams (bass), George Brown (drums).
Composed by Carl Fischer & Frankie Laine.
Recorded: Chicago, IL, August 26, 1961
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt rank along with Al Cohn/Zoot Sims and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis/Johnny Griffin as the best-known, on-again/off-again, tenor sax duos in jazz history. A few years removed from their days with Billy Eckstine's exemplary big band, Ammons and Stitt first recorded together in 1950. On August 26, 1961, they did a session for Prestige, and the following day were recorded by Verve (Boss Tenors). A year later, Ammons began serving a 7-year prison stint on drug charges, and by the time the '61 Prestige date was belatedly released in 1968, Ammons's return was much anticipated, hence the hopeful title We'll Be Together Again. (The two tenors would finally get to record "together again" – for the final time – in 1973.)
The title track's 4-minute length doesn't allow for much stretching out, but these two masters make the most of it. Ammons, notwithstanding his meaty tone, treats us to a yearning and tender reading of the theme, as pianist John Houston's delicate chords enhance the mood. Ammons's mastery of dynamics and dramatic tension is fully evident here. Stitt has the spotlight the rest of the way, his fluent, authoritatively delivered lines intermingled with bluesy exhortations as well as more gently considered passages. His brilliant coda is a lesson in technically proficient bop, and Ammons joins him near the end for a sympathetically harmonized resolution. It's hard to believe that Prestige sat on such great music for almost as long as Ammons was incarcerated. May it remain available forevermore.
Reviewer: Scott Albin