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"Play like Jamal" Miles Davis used to instruct the keyboard players in his band, and always cited Ahmad Jamal as his great inspiration. Jamal might justify the title of "greatest jazzman still alive & playing" (though Wayne Shorter would also be a strong contender); ironic, as when pioneering the style for which he has become celebrated he was often dismissed by jazz critics in the 50s and 60s as "a cocktail bar pianist."

This latest release from the 83-year jazz giant demonstrates he is still the unassailable master of his craft, and shows no signs of retiring anytime soon. `Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions' was recorded in La Buissonne near Avignon, France and features the same quartet as 2012's `Blue Moon' ergo Reginald Veal on bass, Herlin Riley on drums and Manolo Badrena adding additional percussive flourishes to beef out the sound. In many ways BM & SM are companion albums, very much in the same style and with the same high production values.

The overall groove on SM is a little more relaxed than BM (maybe due to the Provencal recording setting?) and the frenetic percussive flourishes of Badrena are less in evidence, his playing often taking a back seat. Ahmad's delightful virtuoso playing dominates the proceedings, with no sideman. There are more originals - 7 in total - than on the 2012 album, plus a few standards which receive the classic Jamal treatment of extended improvisation, always inventive, replete with good humour and occasional surprises. Production values are superb with everything sharp, clear and in perfect balance.

Jamal is on record several times over the years confessing "I think about my music all the time" and it shows. His playing continues to astound and is, almost unbelievably, better than ever. More energetic and at the same time more subtle, you can never predict where his improvisations will go and to what new territories you will be transported.

To top off a stellar and exemplary career with an all-time best album at age 83 is a trick rarely pulled off in the history of music, but Jamal seems to have done it. Way to go, Ahmad. Respect.
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on 1 March 2014
I've always loved Ahmad Jamal but I must confess that I've not listened to his music in years and now I've come back to revisit it and reconnect with why I love his playing so much. His touch is achingly beautiful. It's like taking a deep long breath while standing in the most beautiful flower covered meadow in your life. I'm so glad that at the tender age of 83 he's still creating such beauty. He says so much with so little. His use of space is legendary, just as was Miles who was also a great fan. Younger jazz musicians need to study him. Oh hell, just sit back and let it wash over you.
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on 23 February 2014
Sounds too much like other recent work - not enough variation - Will be more critical before buying follow up albums - Bring back Ponciana
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on 18 February 2014
Saturday Morning
I will enjoy this 52 weeks of the year 365 days
Piano pure Ahmad percussion out of this world!!
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on 17 March 2014
After all this time, Jamal just keeps on delivering new sounds. Complete - near perfection, and brim full of subtlety and surprises. The way he manages to drive this band and to fill the empty spaces with tension and joy is a sheer delight. Absolutely Wonderful! Not to be missed by anyone interested in Jazz.
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on 22 March 2014
well played inventive and easy to follow and easy on the ear yet also some complex structures which made it very interesting to hear
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on 1 October 2014
Late delivery due to customer duties.. Fantastic music and also mix/mastering is excellent.
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on 29 January 2015
Wonderful jazz from Ahmad yet again
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on 6 September 2014
great jazz
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on 17 June 2015
sexalent
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