256

Ahmad Jamal: After Fajr

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Ahmad Jamal: After Fajr Ahmad Jamal's been making music for over fifty years, yet somehow he's still saddled with a tag as one of Miles Davis' favorite pianists. It's long since time critics put that reference to rest and aimed their focus directly at the master and his music. Jamal has a talent for placing melody front and center, but he always frames it in a bright, sparkling rhythmic context. For Jamal, a fresh delivery is as important as the notes themselves, and After Fajr offers heaps more of his distinct brand of bouncy, pointed lyricism.

Longtime companions James Cammack (bass) and Idris Muhmmad (drums) join the pianist on this set, recorded "in live situation" at Centre Des Arts in Enghien, France. The many years they've spent working together has paid off in a complementary fit where they share roles with trust and enthusiasm. On mellower tunes like "Yours Is My Heart Alone," the trio seems to be holding back (though Jamal does take a trip or two into the lower register to pound points home). However, the energetic "Milan" swings like crazy in unpredictable ways, Cammack alternating rapid-fire between single and double time before taking off in a rush, Muhammad tossing out shifts and conversational accents into open spaces. The piece is a small masterpiece of timing and group momentum.

The title track is the only one with vocals (by Donna McElroy and choral group Vox One), and Jamal's lyrics offer a message of warm companionship, but it just doesn't pack much of a punch. I'm not usually a fan of sugary vocals, though, and others may find it charming. The rest of these pieces, including four other Jamal originals, are consistently engaging and thought-provoking. Jamal makes full use of the range of the piano, juxtaposing tones and phrases in unexpected combinations, fully exploiting his bop vocabulary and riding a light funky edge now and then as well. (I sense Muhammad could go much further in this direction, but he reins in those urges for the most part.)

After Fajr is a really nice record. It's got that magical combination of drive and surprise, looseness and focus, exuberance and contemplation that have always made jazz such inviting and involving music.


Track Listing: I'd Old Fashioned; After Fajr; Milan; Yours Is My Heart Alone; Swahililand; My Heart Stood Still; Time On My Hands; Topsy Turvy; Manhattan Reflections.

Personnel: Ahmad Jamal: piano; James Cammack: bass; Idris Muhammad: drums. Featuring (on 2) Donna McElroy: lead vocals; with vocal group Vox One: Jodi Jenkins Ainsworth: soprano; Yumico Matsuoka: alto; Paul Stiller: tenor; Paul J. Pampinella: baritone; Tom Baskett: bass.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Dreyfus Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Recondita Armonia" CD/LP/Track Review Recondita Armonia
by Phillip Woolever
Published: March 12, 2016
Read "Up Go We" CD/LP/Track Review Up Go We
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Clockwork" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwork
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2016
Read "Got A Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966" CD/LP/Track Review Got A Mind to Give Up Living: Live 1966
by Doug Collette
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 30, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!