Everyone knows those famous boogie-woogie pianists were best on their own, and they were stylistically limited. Wrong. Hear these three recordings by the heroic Albert Ammons (1907-1949) and noble hot colleagues.
In the first two, reedman Dalbert Bright is as nimble and enthusiastic as any swing-to-bop player; trumpeter Guy Kelly, although somewhat more taciturn in the manner of Tommy Ladnier, executes some heartfelt Louis. Ike Perkins, young Israel Crosby, and Jimmy Hoskins were Ammons’ preferred rhythm team, and it’s easy to hear why. On the last recording, it’s as if Milt Gabler got the most rocking, riffing players he or anyone could find . . . evoking jam sessions in Kansas City that could go on for hours.
MILE-OR-MO BIRD RAG* (based on a strain of OL’ MISS):
Guy Kelly, trumpet; Dalbert Bright, alto and clarinet; Ammons, piano; Ike Perkins, guitar; Israel Crosby, string bass; Jimmy Hoskins, drums. Chicago, February 14, 1936.
JAMMIN’ THE BOOGIE:
Hot Lips Page, trumpet; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Don Byas, tenor; Ammons, piano; Israel Crosby, string bass; Sidney Catlett, drums. New York, February 12, 1944.
Extraordinary tireless, gravity-defying swing, no? And Ammons holds it all together, strides, encourages everyone . . .
*I always thought that this first title referred to a bird that could fly impossibly long distances. Some online research revealed that the M-O-M-B exists only in boyishly naughty local legends involving avian body parts. You’ll have to look these tales up for yourself.
May your happiness increase!