Ahmad Jamal learned to play piano at age 3 and started his professional career at age 11. His dynamic use of volume control, his swinging enthusiasm, and the manner in which his superb keyboard technique dresses up a melody all contribute to the artist’s continued success. His classic “Poinciana” has become a major landmark in the history of jazz and popular music. At 72, Jamal remains as fresh as ever. In Search Of ... Momentum [1-10] represents the first in a series of new Dreyfus Jazz releases by the hard-hitting veteran pianist.
A guest appearance by vocalist O.C. Smith takes Jamal’s “Whisperings” aside for a quiet break. Throughout the session, the pianist’s dynamic range pushes the keyboard from deep, down and heavy to quirky and light. Standards, such as “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” and “Where Are You,” receive the toughest initiations. In his hands, they’re wispy melodies that sing out lightly over Jamal’s poignant rhythmic drive and hard, foot-stompin’ energy. James Cammack and Idris Muhammad fill suitable roles, bringing the pianist’s creative forces forward. Fiery keyboard swirls and knuckle-busting romps alternate with light-as-a-feather, punctuating phrases. Jamal’s use of tension and release has always had this effect.
The artist’s originals take a more straightforward approach. Each has a theme that runs consistently through its shell. While one remains bouncy and lyrical, the next may turn out asymmetrical and complex. “Where Are You Now” and “Island Fever” prove the point. Monty Alexander’s “You Can See” gives the trio plenty of room to stretch out. As the song’s melodic line emerges and then disappears behind a surging bombast of harmonic counterpoint, Jamal drives home the message loud and clear. Unique among jazz pianists of all ages, and always full of surprises, Jamal shares his highly recommended In Search Of with a world that is badly in need of this kind of innovative beauty.
In Search Of; Should I; Excerpts from I
Ahmad Jamal: piano; James Cammack: bass; Idris Muhammad: drums; O.C. Smith: vocals (4).
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.