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Jazz - Released February 7, 2012 | Jazz Village

Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - Sélectionné par Ecoutez Voir
Still going strong at the age of 81, legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's love letter to his favorite Broadway, Hollywood, and Great American Songbook classics, Blue Moon, is arguably one of his most accomplished efforts since his Chess/Impulse! heyday. The Pittsburgh virtuoso, once credited by Miles Davis as a major influence on his career, shows that age is no barrier to invention with six exquisite reworkings of postwar standards, from a romantic orchestral take on the title track to Otto Preminger's 1944 film Laura to a delicately whimsical interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Gypsy." Jamal's improvised cluster of chords remains as expressive and sprightly as ever, but it's when drummer Herlin Riley, who along with bassist Reginald Veal (Wynton Marsalis) and percussionist Manolo Badrena (Weather Report) form the backbone of the record, is allowed to let loose that they really spring to life, from the syncopated grooves of the epic 13-minute adaptation of A Life of Her Own's "Invitation," to the Latin rhythms on the title track and Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody'n You," to the surprisingly contemporary R&B beats of Golden Boy show tune "This Is the Life." The simmering lounge pop of "Autumn Rain," the delicate "Morning Mist," and the tender solo "I Remember Italy," a Debussy-esque number inspired by his many travels, all of which are original compositions, are equally majestic. But it's his interpretative skills that ensure Blue Moon will go down as one of Jamal's modern greats. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 16, 2013 | Jazz Village

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Jazz - Released September 13, 2019 | Jazz Village

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Remarkably, at 89 years young, pianist Ahmad Jamal is still making fine records. Imbued with sage experience and erudite taste, Jamal has an unerring sense of what still moves him and what he still wants to express. Though nowhere near the late career masterpiece of his 2016 release Marseille these mostly solo outtakes—recorded during that album's sessions—are very personal snapshots of the moment rather than any artistic statement. Ballades is Jamal noodling; his still fantastic touch on the keys and elastic blending of melody and rhythm make it worth a listen. The pianist, who first gained fame in 1958 with the release of At the Pershing, opens this set with a spacious solo take of Marseille's title track. A wry, relaxed version of "Poinciana" unfolds from his long connection to this signature tune. He's joined by longtime bassist James Cammack on three tracks, including an effective mashup between Rodgers & Hart's "Spring is Here" and Bill Evans' "Your Story." For those seeking undeniable evidence of Jamal's still vital genius there's the spontaneously composed and recorded "Because I Love You." The shimmering version of the Johnny Mercer/Johnny Mandel song, "Emily" which closes the album is a classic example of the unbridled imagination and formidable instrumental chops that Jamal can bring when playing by, and one suspects, for himself. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Jazz - Released July 28, 2014 | Jazz Village

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released June 8, 2015 | Jazz Village

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1994 | GRP

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
One of Miles Davis's favorite musicians, Ahmad Jamal has a unique approach as a pianist, composer, and arranger that is highly influential and distinctive. Possessed of a light, almost classical touch, and a purveyor of negative space and minimal phrasing (his influence on Davis can certainly be seen here), Jamal worked largely in trio settings, and used his conceptions of space and subtlety to create dynamic tensions within the group. At the same time, the artist's work is rooted firmly in the blues and swings intently, without fail. Ahmad's Blues, the trio's 1958 live date in Washington D.C., demonstrates all of these qualities in spades. Supremely attentive playing by bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier (his brush work on the intricate, gear-shifting "Autumn Leaves" is especially noteworthy) provides groundwork, foil, and shifting frames for Jamal's virtuoso explorations. The ensemble's work brings new ideas -- the musicians often incorporate understated mambo, fractured swing rhythms, or airy, abstract structures -- to standards ("Stompin' at the Savoy;" "Cheek to Cheek") and to Jamal's own compositions (the delicate "Seleritus"). Ahmad's Blues allows us to eavesdrop on the sophisticated, innovative artist and company at work. © Rovi Staff /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 15, 2005 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Few of pianist Ahmad Jamal's many recordings are not worth picking up, and this effort for Atlantic boasts some fresh material and fine playing. Jamal (joined by bassist James Cammack, drummer Herlin Riley, and percussionist Manolo Badrena) performs seven of his little-known originals and the obscure "Yellow Fellow." The close musical communication by the players is, as always, the main reason to acquire this release. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 17, 1985 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Ahmad Jamal was never as distinctive on electric piano as he was on the acoustic counterpart, making this two-LP set, Digital Works, (which finds him doubling) a slight disappointment. Jamal does play well throughout, engaging his sidemen (bassist Larry Ball, drummer Herlin Riley, and percussionist Iraj Lashkaryl) in close interplay, but no new revelations occur on such remakes as "But Not for Me," "Wave" and Jamal's greatest hit, "Poinciana." Good music overall, but not essential. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2011 | Impulse!

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This collection is evidence that there really are bargains on the compact disc market. Both albums presented here, Ahmad Jamal at the Top: Poinciana Revisited and Freeflight, offer excellent portraits of the great pianist in transition at the end of the '60s and beginning of the '70s. Both feature Jamal's great rhythm section of bassist Jamil Sulieman Nasser and drummer Frank Grant. The first date was recorded in in 1969 at the Top of the Village Gate in New York City. Its reveals Jamal playing in a more driving, percussive style, though he keeps his utterly elegant chord voicings intact. Check the opening reading of Rodgers & Hart's "Have You Met Miss Jones," played as a slippery, complex, hard bop tune with some modal and Latin elements added. The version of "Poinciana" here is quicker, deeper in the rhythmic cut. The reading of Tony Hatch's "Call Me," with an Afro-Cuban rhythmic frame and a very fast tempo, reinvents the pop song. "Theme from Valley of the Dolls" begins almost impressionistically before giving way to gorgeous, slowly and precisely played balladry, in which the pianist extends every line until it bleeds into the next. The set ends with a completely re-visioned "How Insensitive," by Antonio Carlos Jobim, that employs elements of montuno and even rumba in its samba frame. Freeflight, recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1971, is just as satisfying, though Jamal plays a Fender Rhodes piano as well as his grand. Commencing with a charging rendition of McCoy Tyner's "Effendi," Jamal allows the Rhodes' slightly distorted tone to add space and texture -- creating space where there is, in fact, very little. Nasser's basslines are a sprint throughout and they lead Jamal to explore the range of the electric keyboard's harmonic possibilities. His reading of Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance," played on the grand piano, highlights the more subtle elements in the composer's lyric palette and finds a second, more disguised one at the tune's heart. The dynamics in the arrangement showcase Jamal's ability to extract fully-voiced chords from minimal elements. The 11-and-a-half-minute rendition of "Poinciana" here stands in sharp contrast to the previous one because of its extended, intricate, sweet lyricism that takes its time before giving way to the midtempo Latin rhythmic figure, as his light-fingered ostinati pop against the rhythm section's skittering strut. Together, these two dates make for a fine portrait of Jamal's ability to reinvent his approach to jazz during a particularly turbulent era, without sacrificing his personality. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 16, 2005 | Epic - Legacy

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This collection brings together the early OKeh and Epic recordings of innovative jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, recorded between 1951 and 1955. Jamal ushered in a new era of melodic improvisation that stood in sharp contrast to bebop's previous innovations. These recordings were all done in trio settings, where the pianist was accompanied by guitarist Ray Crawford, and either Eddie Calhoun (1951 and 1952) or Israel Crosby on bass. The shimmering solos and light as a feather chord voicings are anything but lightweight. Sharp, harmonic invention, economical yet intuitive phrasing, and a deft sense of time pushed Jamal's star to ascendancy. Standout cuts here are his "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," which extrapolates the melody into new harmonic terrain; the beautiful arrangement of the traditional "Billy Boy"; Fats Waller's "Squeeze Me" with its beautiful ostinato, and Jamal's glorious read of "Perfidia." The sound on this set is gloriously remastered. There are period liner notes by Nat Hentoff, and a moving and appreciative essay by Randy Weston. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released July 15, 2013 | Jazz Village

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Jazz - Released February 14, 1989 | Columbia

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This fascinating date features pianist Ahmad Jamal at the beginning of his recording career. With guitarist Ray Crawford and either Eddie Calhoun or Israel Crosby on bass, Jamal showcases a style that would be a major influence on Miles Davis' music. Jamal's use of space and dynamics was very different than the style of any other jazz pianist of the era. His versions of "Old Devil Moon," "Will You Still Be Mine?," "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," and "A Gal in Calico" inspired Miles to record the songs in a similar fashion, and his "Billy Boy" became the basis of a performance by the Red Garland Trio. Most fascinating is Jamal's inventive interpretation of "Pavanne," for it has a section very reminiscent of "So What" (which was not "composed" by Davis until over two years later) and a melody statement that is exactly the same as John Coltrane's "Impressions." © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 15, 1987 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
There are some magical moments on this quartet set featuring pianist Ahmad Jamal, bassist James Cammack, drummer David Bowles and percussionist Willie White. Jamal's control of dynamics and inventive use of space proved to be as effective as it had been when he first made his mark in the 1950s, although his chord voicings and general style had evolved. Jamal and his group perform ten of his originals with taste, swing and subtle surprises. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 15, 1986 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
This live concert was released on a 1986 double album, Live at the Montreal Jazz Festival 1985. Pianist Ahmad Jamal and his quartet (which also includes bassist James Cammack, drummer Herlin Riley, and percussionist Selden Newton) dig into three originals, an obscurity, Jack DeJohnette's "Ebony," and a trio of jazz standards (including "Footprints"). This particular group is often reminiscent of Jamal's trios of the '50s, although with more modern bass playing and some denser piano than before. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released November 20, 2007 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
Still pursuing his own muse, Jamal is up to his usual tricks with his hypnotic vamps and and feverish runs, as ever refusing to toe the line and sound like everyone else. In this, the third installment of his Essence series, Jamal adds a different twist -- a fine jazz steel drum player named Othello Molineaux -- and he mixes a few transfigured standards ("The End of a Love Affair" is completely re-routed through his nervous system) with pieces of his own. The first version (for quartet) of "If I Find You Again" is a magnificent example of the tension Jamal can generate. "And We Were Lovers" and "Chaperon" are huge, borderline bombastic piano solos that ought to erase any doubts that Jamal continues to command one monster keyboard technique. As in the previous Essence entries, a guest horn player shows up briefly, tenorman Stanley Turrentine in epigrammic form on "Devil's in My Den," and the ultra-responsive rhythm section remains Idris Muhammad (drums) and James Cammack (bass). © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released October 20, 1989 | Rhino Atlantic

Distinctions The Qobuz Standard
On Pittsburgh, an ambitious tribute to his late mother and his hometown, Ahmad Jamal enlists the help of Chicago-based arranger Richard Evans -- a more familiar presence in soul-jazz's '60s heyday than in 1989, alas -- to decorate five of his compositions and Jimmy Heath's "Mellowdrama," while soloing alone on two others. While Jamal can summon forth all of the bravura resources of his piano technique on pieces like "Foolish Ways" and "Divertimento," he often chooses economy instead, relying on the trademark ostinatos of his rhythm section (James Cammack on bass; David Bowler on drums) for momentum. Evans' orchestrations, always elegant and lean, fit like gloves onto Jamal's compositions, enhancing rather than intruding, often following the contours of the melodic lines. This CD has captured both the character and the shaping hand of Jamal and the distinct sound of Evans, and they are a perfect match in this at-times-exquisite piece of work. © Richard S. Ginell /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 9, 2017 | Jazz Village

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An octogenarian jazz master who exerted an influence on not just other pianists, but most prominently on Miles Davis, Ahmad Jamal has remained a vital presence on the music scene since the 1950s. His nuanced 2017 album, Marseille, finds him drawing upon his years of experience with a set of originals and covers that reveal just how vital and creative he remains. Primarily, the album showcases three distinctly varied interpretations of the title track, a hypnotic, modal ode to a city he loves, and to a greater extent a country that awarded him the prestigious Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et de Lettres in 2007. In fact, Marseille was even recorded in France; specifically in the Parisian suburb of Malakoff. Joining Jamal are several longtime associates including bassist James Cammack, former Jazz at Lincoln Center drummer Herlin Riley, and percussionist Manolo Badrena. Also showcased are French rapper/spoken word performer Abd Al Malik and vocalist Mina Agossi, both of whom show up on two separate versions of "Marseille." The first version of "Marseille" is an instrumental reading marked by Riley's military band snare work, Badrena's atmospheric bells and Jamal's wave-like piano, all of which evoke the city's coastal atmosphere. The second version is an equally evocative take buoyed by Cammack's languid bass motif and featuring a passionate spoken word piece in French from Malik. The final version is moody, cabaret-tinged treatment with Agossi's wry French vocals framed by Jamal's sparkling piano work and Badrena's magical chimes and percussion accents. Elsewhere, Jamal keeps the magic flowing, diving into the Afro-Cuban-infused "Pots en Verre," drawing upon dramatic, roiling, Bob Fosse-esque dance rhythms on "Baalbeck," and directly referencing the bluesy call-and-response melody of Davis' 1982 We Want Miles track "Jean Pierre" on an infectious reworking of the traditional spiritual "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child." Jamal also seems to borrow more from Davis, conjuring the sound of the trumpeter's 1965 piece "Eighty-One" for his funky interpretation of "Autumn Leaves." However, it's the pianist's original pieces here, like the glittering, dreamlike "I Came to See You/You Were Not There" that seem to flood deeper into your soul with each listen. If the music presented on Marseille is any indication, the city is clearly an intoxicating locale. Ultimately, Jamal has captured that intoxicating vibe and crafted an homage to a city that's as a heartfelt and finely rendered as anything he's done. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 10, 2010 | Verve Reissues

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1958 | Verve Reissues

Recorded at the Pershing Club in Chicago, IL, Jamal's third album (including the hit "Poinciana") was the turning point in his career. His liberal use of silence influenced many jazz musicians, including Miles Davis. © Michael Erlewine /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 1955 | Argo

This album is unusual in two ways. Because pianist Ahmad Jamal would soon become famous for his piano/bass/drums trios, it is often forgotten that, up until 1956, his group consisted of bassist Israel Crosby and guitarist Ray Crawford. Crawford's percussive hitting of his guitar would soon be utilized by Herb Ellis in Oscar Peterson's Trio. And, although it is know that Miles Davis listened closely to Jamal and often "borrowed" his repertoire, few probably realize that Gil Evans based some of his famous arrangements on Jamal's interpretations. A comparison of "New Rumba" and "Medley" (which is really "I Don't Want To Be Kissed") on this album with Evans' version for Miles Ahead in 1957 sounds nearly identical despite the very different personnel. It is a pity that Jamal would soon change his group's instrumentation since his communication with Crawford and Crosby (heard here on such tunes as "A Foggy Day," "All of You," "I Get a Kick out of You" and "Spring Is Here") was often magical, but he would soon gain great popularity with the upcoming guitarless trio (which was just as telepathic). © Scott Yanow /TiVo