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.


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!

5 responses to “ALBERT AMMONS and FRIENDS: PERPETUAL SWING, 1936, 1944

  1. Greetings Michael,
    At the annual IAJRC convention in KC, MO last week, Canadian researcher Trevor Tolley gave a fine presentation on Boogie Woogie recordings. He played Albert Ammons’ “Boogie Woogie Stomp” which is from the same January 1936 Decca session as Mile-Or-Mo- Bird Rag. I posed the question of whether that version of “Boogie Woogie Stomp” was possibly the first band recording (other than piano and rhythm) of a Boogie Woogie composition. None of the attendees could come up with a prior recording. Any thoughts from you and your astute readers?
    Cheers, Sonny McGown

  2. Talk about coincidence: a friend of mine was just telling me about those 1936 Ammons-Kelly sides, which I’d never heard, and here they are on your blog. Sensational stuff! Hearty thanks.

  3. That IS remarkable. I always suspected you had paranormal powers.

  4. dig Israel’s bass lines on MILE-OR-MO BIRD RAG, goes from a 2-beat to a sort of triplet to a walking 4.

    Love the Beethoven face on that Australian Decca “Nagasaki” disk! Guy Kelly defies gravity at that tempo.

    Great stuff, never before heard in these parts,,,


  5. Albert was the best boogie player of them all. His Mercury sides from around the same time were very influential (see Fats Domino, et al) and
    Swanee River Boogie was the theme song of Gene Nobles of WLAC.

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