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Ammons,Albert(C.)

chicago johnson lewis piano

Ammons, Albert (C.), boogie-woogie pianist, father of Gene Ammons; b. Chicago, Sept. 23, 1907; d. Chicago, Dec. 2, 1949. Ammons was a leader of the boogie-woogie movement for solo piano from the late 1930s on, often paired in concert and on recordings with Pete Johnson. He began playing piano at age ten, and later worked as a soloist before touring with territory bands, including François Moseley’s Louisiana Stompers (summer 1929), William Barbee and His Headquarters (parts of 1930 and 1931), and drummer Louis Banks and His Chesterfield Orch. (1930–34). Ammons headed his own group at several Chicago clubs from 1934 to 1938, making his first records with a sextet in 1936. He moved to N.Y. initially to appear at the “From Spirituals to Swing” concert at Carnegie Hall on Dec. 23, 1938, along with Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis. He then began appearing regularly at Cafe Society and elsewhere in duet with Johnson, sometimes with Lewis added. In the early 1940s, Johnson and Ammons did some touring, with residencies in Hollywood and Chicago, except for a brief period in the spring of 1941, when Ammons accidentally cut off the tip of his finger while preparing a sandwich. During the mid-1940s he suffered temporary paralysis in both hands, but recovered and played mainly in Chicago during the last few years of his life. Due to illness he was inactive in 1949, but played at Mama Yancey’s Parlour a few days before his death.

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