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Gene Ammons – Nice an’ Cool


AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason

A 1961 set of standards heavy on the ballads, Nice ‘n Cool is prime Gene Ammons. In front of a sympathetic piano-bass-drums trio (Richard Wyands, Doug Watkins, and the great J.C. Heard, respectively), Ammons’ brilliantly soulful tenor saxophone really stretches out on the familiar melodies, but the relatively concise arrangements (all of the eight tracks are between three and eight minutes, with most hovering around the five-minute mark) don’t allow him to wander too far afield as he occasionally does on less structured sessions. Nice ‘n Cool is first and foremost a mood album, with the unity of sound more important than the individual performances, but Ammons particularly shines on the extended opener, a tender, restrained version of The Music Man’s “Til There Was You” that sidesteps the mawkishness of many interpretations in favor of a dignified grace. The backing trio is excellent throughout, although Wyands’ too-brief solo passages do make the listener wish that the pianist had been given more of a chance to shine.

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SKU: Moodsville 18 (45) [2] Categories: , , , Tags: , , ,


Since Ammons is such a fine ballad player, it seems reasonable to wonder why he has never recorded an entire ballad set before this.  The answer seems to be that until the advent of the Moodsville series, there was little opportunity, aside from an occasional “Plays Pretty” album, for a jazzman to exercise his abilities in this direction.  There were, of course, albums with strings, but so much of the nature of the soloist was often lost amongst the violins that the projects seldom worked out.  To be able to sustain a mood throughout the course of an entire album, rather than only throughout one piece, is a challenge to a musician, and one which is met straight on by Ammons here.  That the Moodsville series gives him and others an opportunity to do this is a good enough reason for its existence.

All in all, the definitive ballad performances of Gene Ammons, which is really more than enough to say.


1. Till There Was You
2. Answer Me, My Love
3. Willow Weep For Me
4. Little Girl Blue
1. Something I Dreamed Last Night
2. Something Wonderful
3. I Remember You
4. Someone To Watch Over Me


Additional information

Weight 0.700 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm