Ahmad Jamal Vicar Street Dublin 24 January, 2014 It's been a banner year for fans of jazz piano in Dublin, with solo concerts by Keith Jarrett and Brad Mehldau bookending 2013. Influential to both these pianists was NEA Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal, so it was fitting in a way that he should give his first performance in Ireland in a dozen years so soon after two of the most important pianists of the past forty years. Jamal was promoting his two most recent, critically acclaimed releases, Blue Moon (Jazz Village, 2012) and Saturday Morning (Jazz ...read more
The following list represents my personal favorites of those CDs I reviewed this year. I am convinced that we live in a great age for jazz/creative music. You can only ever listen to a very small percentage of what's out there, but it's still a privilege to able to access this much terrific music. Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone and the London Vocal Project Mirrors (Edition Records) Yuhan Su Flying Alone (Inner Circle Music) Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran Hagar's Song (ECM Records) Francesco Turrisiread more
Just over a year after Blue Moon (Jazzbook Records, 2012) --Jamal's stellar homage to American cinema and Broadway--the Pittsburgh pianist returns in the same rich vein of form on Saturday Morning. Blue Moon earned a Grammy nomination, and for the second time in recent years Jamal was invited to open the Lincoln Center season in September; clearly, Jamal is enjoying his status as one of jazz's great, elder statesmen. Saturday Morning could almost be part of the same sessions that produced Blue Moon with its mixture of standards, new compositions and reworked older material. Like Blue Moon, this recording occasionally ...read more
"Play like Jamal," Miles Davis told his pianists in the mid 1950s. The trumpeter was not shy about recruiting band leaders or poaching their musicians, so you might suppose he canvassed Jamal. But the pianist maintains Davis never popped the question. Interviewed in 2012, he side-stepped the subject, saying that he was in any case too busy leading his own band to consider offers from Davis or anyone else. I lived a block and a half from Miles when I moved to New York," Jamal continued. But we didn't hang out. We had a quality relationship, not a quantity relationship."read more
Ahmad JamalSymphony HallSan Francisco, CAJune 18, 2013SFJAZZ has accomplished a lot of things as it approaches its first half-year in its new building. Amongst them is revealing dedicated audiences for specific areas of the jazz universe, including piano-led bands. On the face of things, little may appear to connect two masters of this format, Ahmad Jamal, who performed on June 13 at Symphony Hall, and Brad Mehldau, who performed from April 26 to 28 at the new SFJAZZ Center. But both musicians and both groups are more similar than they might seem. In addition, in ...read more
Ahmad JamalBlue MoonJazz Village2012Ahmad Jamal--senior statesman of jazz piano--first recorded 60 years ago. That he's still producing records of great energy, imagination and flair every couple of years is a remarkable testament to his singular talent. Blue Moon broadly follows the formula of It's Magic (Dreyfus Records, 2008) and A Quiet Time (Dreyfus, 2010); a few Jamal originals, a handful of timeless show tunes and popular numbers from bygone years, plus a nod to the jazz cannon. According to the liner notes the music is reminiscent of Jamal's classic Chess/Impulse! years, and ...read more
In 1958 Pianist Ahmad Jamal burst on the scene with At the Pershing: But Not for Me( Argo Records), which contained the runaway hit Poinciana." The song's impact was such that it remains Jamal's signature tune to this day. As sometimes comes with popular success, some jazz critics pulled back, but his championing by other musicians, such as trumpeter Miles Davis in 1955--citing the pianist as one of his big influences--subdued their effect. Over the decades, Jamal has made many recordings, and his career has prospered internationally. Blue Moon displays that the octegenarian is still going strong. In ...read more
In February 2010, at the well seasoned age of 80, pianist Ahmad Jamal released A Quiet Time on Dreyfus Records. It is an album many observers regard as up there in the stratosphere along with such landmark Jamal discs as Chicago Revisited (Telarc, 1992) or A L'Olympia (Dreyfus, 1996), to name just two of many--or even Jamal's breakthrough LP, But Not For Me: At The Pershing (Chess, 1958).Sadly, Francis Dreyfus--a revered figure in the European record business, and a great supporter of Jamal's music--passed, aged 70, in June 2010.More happily, in February 2012, Jamal has hit ...read more
Ahmad JamalBlue MoonJazz Village2012 It is tempting to say that, at age 82, Ahmad Jamal carries on getting better and better, but that would be to miss the point. The pianist long ago reached a level of perfection from which it is simply not possible to get better. It is a level, however, to which he habitually returns. In 2010, Jamal released one of the most sublime albums in his long and splendid career, the quartet set A Quiet Time (Dreyfus Records). Two years later, he has released another one every ...read more
Ahmad Jamal TrioThe Legendary 1958 Pershing Lounge & Spotlite Club PerformancesSolar Records2011 Play like Jamal," trumpeter Miles Davis is reputed to have told his pianist Red Garland in the mid 1950s. We can but speculate how Garland reacted to this request, assuming the story is true. It has the ring of truth: Davis was not best known for mincing his words, and he championed Ahmad Jamal at a time when many jazz critics were dismissing him as a lightweight cocktail bar pianist. All my inspiration today comes from Ahmad Jamal," Davis ...read more
Ahmad Jamal's Identity Crisis Ahmad Jamal a terrorist? Surely not the renowned American pianist who's given hundreds of concerts over the last half century. So it was puzzling why the $10,000 that the Festival da Jazz in Moritz, Switzerland ordered paid to Jamal in advance of his July 16 appearance, was promptly frozen by U.S. authorities. The artist's management insisted it was a case of mistaken identity. Jamal Ahmad Mohammad Al Badawi, a convicted Yemeni on the FBI most-wanted list for helping plan the 2000 USS Cole bombing, which killed 17 American sailors off Yemen's port coast, was ...read more
Ahmad JamalThe Complete Ahmad Jamal Trio Argo Sessions 1956-62Mosaic Records2010 If you're familiar with pianist Ahmad Jamal, it's more likely through his reputation and not through his music. Trumpeter Miles Davis famously remarked that Jamal taught him to be more economical in his playing: that the notes that aren't played are just as important as the ones that are. He was an enormously influential pianist in the 1950s who, despite a hit record--Live at the Pershing (Chess, 1958)--has a catalog and legacy that has remained on the fringes, available mainly as imports.read more
Ahmad JamalThe Complete Ahmad Jamal Trio Argo Sessions 1956-62Mosaic Records2010 When I listen to these records now... when I listen to the Pershing, it's phenomenal, I must say. What they were doing, phenomenal, the lines and the purity. It's so pure ... It was sheer joy working with these two individuals. Master musicians," writes pianist/bandleader Ahmad Jamal in the liner notes to this collection.If there ever was a subject worthy of a Mosaic box set, Jamal is it. For six decades, he has been, for several reasons, one of the ...read more
Ahmad JamalA Quiet TimeDreyfus Records2010 Always reluctant to go into the studio unless he has material he is thoroughly satisfied with, pianist Ahmad Jamal's A Quiet Time could be considered as a follow-up to It's Magic (Dreyfus Records, 2008), given the relatively short period between the two releases. Stylistically, it is similar, with Jamal leading a habitual trio augmented with percussion through a set of (mostly) originals, a couple of which have been previously released. Jamal shows his complete mastery of styles though the idiom is, as ever, uniquely his own. At ...read more
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