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Blue Moon - Ahmad Jamal CD

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, 6 Feb 2012
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Product details

  • Audio CD (6 Feb. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Jazz Village
  • ASIN: B0065HDMAC
  • Other Editions: Audio CD |  Vinyl |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 102,632 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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Product description

BBC Review

The veteran octogenarian pianist Ahmad Jamal has been playing an abundance of gigs in recent times, and this album acts as a timely documentation of his current working band. The sessions were recorded late last year in New York City, with Jamal’s stable quartet line-up. Bassman James Cammack might be missing, but Reginald Veal is now shoeing in seamlessly.

Strangely, Herlin Riley’s brutally cracking drum contributions ram home a straight-ahead rock-style beat for much of the duration, and Manolo Badrena’s highly dramatic percussion can sometimes be rather disconcerting. Maybe this is a trick of the mix, a quirk of the production, as when this very combo are caught live, that same aspect isn’t particularly noticeable: the quartet is usually comprised of equal voices. The most extreme example of this recorded tendency arrives with This Is the Life, as the snare hits with an alarming insistency, the two factions within the quartet sounding like they’re in a warring stand-off. The leader himself is, contrastingly, flying unfettered across the entire space, the epitome of improvisatory freedom… an abstract octopus.

This all sounds more like the new Robert Glasper album than the new Robert Glasper album itself. Jamal’s particular combination here is like the work of a much younger player, in tune with a co-existent funk-improv expression. Such is the vitality of his effervescent trinkles, his mellifluous showers.

Jamal interleaves his own compositions with a choice selection of standards and not-so-standards. The Rodgers-and-Hart title-tune receives a renewed interpretation for modern times, the drums and percussion setting up an intricate web of groove, around which Jamal roams freely. The leader works from driving repetition through to flighty embellishments.

The midway stretch features a pair of 13-minute epics, with Invitation laying a funky Latin foundation for Jamal’s pointillist rivulets. The underused Laura classic makes a welcome appearance, taking on an almost orchestral journey through its romantic moods. Jamal’s highly active mind leads to a complete absence of unpredictability in his soloing. The listener can never be sure where the pianist’s emphasis will be, or how his phrases will develop or conclude. The ultimate result could be classified as a highly advanced form of lounge music.

--Martin Longley

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Review

Pianist Ahmad Jamal (a man even Miles Davis credited as a big influence) is now 81 and he remains a genius at the art of motivic improvising, repeating a catchy theme (so listeners don't lose the plot) while transforming it with fresh melody. Here, Jamal combines eloquent originals with dazzling makeovers of American standards (Laura, Invitation, Gypsy and the title track), in the inspired company of Wynton Marsalis sidemen Reginald Veal (bass) and Herlin Riley (drums), with an incandescent Manolo Badrena on Latin percussion. Jamal's Autumn Rain opens the show with his trademark grandiloquent chords over a ticking rimshot groove, turning to rolling keyboard-length runs and a funk feel. Blue Moon is a classic firework display of silvery runs and arpeggios full of hints of the tune, the original I Remember Italy is a delicious, tender melody, and the jazz standby Woody 'n You is as vivacious a Latin dance as anything Jamal might have recorded in his early years. Sometimes his virtuosity takes Jamal over the top, but this session looks set to be one of his classics. FOUR STARS --The Guardian

Perhaps because his style of rhythmic conversation is conceptual as much as musical, at 81 years of age pianist Jamal sounds close to his 1950s Chess Records best. It helps that drummer Herlin Riley and bassist Reginald Veal create such a monster groove-machine, but the real masterstroke is the presence of percussionist Manolo Badrena. The title track is an absolute masterpiece, the whole 10 minutes poised on one repeated figure. Autumn Rain and Woody 'n You are almost as good. FOUR STARS --Independent on Sunday

What is remarkable is that this is no pale imitation of past glory, but more a celebration of life and all that he ahs learned in his long career in jazz. Miles Davis, once a dedicated fan, would have loved it FOUR STARS --Jazzwise

Blue Moon, which mixes much- loved standards, including a mesmerising version of the title tune, with some excellent new originals, gloriously recalls Jamal s classic albums for Chess in the 1950s...With support from Wynton Marsalis alumni Reginald Veal and Herlin Riley, and an extra dimension added by percussionist Manolo Badrena, the pianist proves that his ability to find the truth buried in a tune is as finely honed as it ever was. --CORMAC LARKIN, Irish Times, 24 February 2012

What is remarkable is that this is no pale imitation of past glory, but more a celebration of life and all that he ahs learned in his long career in jazz. Miles Davis, once a dedicated fan, would have loved it FOUR STARS --Jazzwise


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