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Albert Ammons

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Albert Ammons
Birth nameAlbert C. Ammons
Born(1907-03-01)March 1, 1907
OriginUnited States Chicago, Illinois
DiedDecember 2, 1949(1949-12-02) (aged 42)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
GenresJazz, blues, boogie-woogie
Years active1920s–1949
LabelsVocalion, Blue Note, Delmark, Mercury

Albert Clifton Ammons (March 1, 1907 – December 2, 1949) was an important American blues and boogie-woogie pianist.

Life[change | change source]

Ammons was the son of a couple which both played piano. So he started at the age of ten with piano lessons. After the First World War, he became interested in blues. He was influenced by Hersal Thomas and Jimmy Yancey. At the beginning of the 1920s, he worked as taxi driver where he met another pianist, Meade Lux Lewis. They formed a team and played at clubs and parties.

In 1934, he formed his own band, Albert Ammons's Rhythm Kings. Their version of Swanee River Boogie sold over a million copies. Later he went to New York City where he teamed with another pianist, Pete Johnson. They often played at the Café Society. Sometimes they were joined by Meade Lux Lewis. But they also played there with famous jazz musicians like Benny Goodman or Harry James.

On December 23, 1938, Ammons, Lewis and Johnson played at the From Spirituals to Swing concert. This concert was the start of the public interest in boogie-woogie. One visitor was record producer Alfred Lion who started two weeks later Blue Note Records with recordings of Ammons and Johnson, nine Ammons solos including "The Blues" and "Boogie Woogie Stomp", eight by Lewis and a pair of duets.

After the interest in boogie-woogie faded, Albert Ammons still had a lot of work. He went on tours as solo artist. Ammons played at President Harry S. Truman's inauguration in 1949. He died on December 2, 1949 in Chicago.

A lot of pianists like Dave Alexander, Dr. John, Hadda Brooks, Johnnie Johnson, Ray Bryant, Erroll Garner, Katie Webster, Axel Zwingenberger and Jörg Hegemann named Ammons as a main influence. Jörg Hegemann recorded a tribute album, A Tribute To Albert Ammons, celebrating his 100th birthday in 2007.