331

Ahmad Jamal: Nature: The Essence Part III

Douglas Payne By

Sign in to view read count
Ahmad Jamal: Nature: The Essence Part III
As pianist Ahmad Jamal points out in his own notes to Nature, he's recorded prolifically outside the trios for which he has become known (check out, for example, his new one on Roesch with the Assai Quartet). But what makes Nature even more unusual is Jamal's addition of steel drums. Don't look for a set of kitschy Caribbean tunes though. Othello Molineaux plays his steel drums more like a vibraphonist, as if he understands bop much more than island music. And the familiar, spare sound woth which Jamal attracted Mile Davis' attention is still in ample evidence.

Jamal's compositions featuring Moplineaux tend to have rather uncomplicated melody lines – as if to limit the potential flourish of the percussion. What's most interesting, though, is that Jamal seems content to let steel drums carry the melody, as he does on one of the album's best tracks, "If I Find You Again (quartet)."

Nature 's best track, the exciting bop of "Devil in My Den," forgoes steel drums altogether and adds fellow Pittsburghian Stanley Turrentine to the basic trio. Again, the horn states the theme. But while soloing, Turrentine's muscular prowess is almost overthrown by Jamal's aggressive support. The two soloing together actually sounds less like a sparring match and more like two creative minds considering one another's space. Unfortunately, this is Turrentine's only appearance and like trumpeter Donald Byrd's (or even violinist Joe Kennedy's) appearance on last year's Big Byrd, it cries out for a whole set of explorations, not just one.

The solo turns, on the other hand, are everything the rest of the disc is not: overstated, filled with too many notes, phony flourishes and quasi-classical cliches. It's as if Jamal, a beautiful, sensitive and gifted ensemble player, is trying to orchestrate these pieces with two hands rather than letting the spaces or the quietness get his message across.

Like the two previous recordings in Jamal's "The Essence" series, Nature is frustratingly inconsistent. But when he shines – as he does throughout most of this disc – it's hard to deny that Jamal, now in his fourth decade of music making, has potent, relevant ideas and a strength in playing that is well worth hearing.

Tracks:If I Find You Again (quartet); Like Someone In Love; Chaperone (solo); Devil's In My Den; And We Were Lovers (solo); Fantastic Vehicle (abridged version); The End Of A Love Affair (abridged version); Cabin In The Sky (medley); If I Find You Again (duet).

Personnel

Stanley Turrentine: tenor sax (on "Devil's In My Den" only); Ahmad Jamal: piano; James Cammack: bass; Idris Muhammad: drums; Othello Molineaux: steel drums (except on "Chaperone," "Devil's In My Den," "And We Were Lovers" and "Cabin in the Sky").

Album information

Title: Nature: The Essence Part III | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Atlantic Jazz

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read The Rise Up
The Rise Up
Mehmet Ali Sanlikol
Read New York Moment
New York Moment
JC Hopkins Biggish Band
Read Pollinator
Pollinator
Matt Ulery
Read Hug!
Hug!
Matt Wilson Quartet
Read Touch & Go
Touch & Go
Susan Tobocman
Read The Ilkley Suite
The Ilkley Suite
Jamil Sheriff
Read Moving Through Worlds
Moving Through Worlds
Fiona Joy Hawkins

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
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.