Ammons, Gene [Eugene; Jug]
- Kenny Mathieson
(b Chicago, IL, April 14, 1925; d Chicago, Aug 6, 1974). American jazz tenor saxophonist and bandleader, son of Albert (C.) Ammons. He studied music under Captain Walter Dyett at Du Sable High School and was influenced by Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. After touring with the trumpeter King Kolax in 1943, he was a member of Billy Eckstine’s seminal big band from 1944 to 1947—Eckstine is said to have given him the nickname Jug, referring to his hat size—and was also a member of Woody Herman’s Second Herd in 1949. Ammons began leading his own small groups in 1947 and had a hit with “Red Top” (named after his wife) that year. In the early 1950s he co-led a popular two-tenor band with Sonny Stitt and in the early 1960s he took part in successful collaborations in a soul-jazz idiom with several organists, including Jack McDuff and Johnny Smith. He served prison sentences for drug offences (...