(via Ahmad Jamal | PDX Jazz)
Get your tickets to see Ahmad Jamal at the Portland Jazz Festival on February 21!
"Jamal is still doing it – dropping kernels of melody inside infectious rhythms…on his own tunes “Firefly” and “Silver” (the latter a tribute to Horace Silver), he is on this disc a patriarch of jazz piano whose fire has never banked" - The Buffalo News
"…upon first hit it feels anything but old. “Back to the Future” kicks in with relentless Latin-tinge and bottom-heavy boogie, led by New Orleans drummer Herlin Riley on a very funkified, very Southern groove, with Jamal dancing and floating all over the lead line like there’s ants in his sleeves. There’s plenty more such pep, with a Caribbean-flavored exploration into the weird reggae fusion world of Jamaica’s Ernest Ranglin on the likes of “Firefly” and “The Line,” both rousing, upbeat, slinky and more danceable than they are detached jazz-club-head-nod. Even the inevitable settle into more polished, “modern” territory—like the lush and lovely “I’m In The Mood For Love”—feels less Brad Mehldau than West Coast cool.
A certain low-down mischievousness, a favoring of smoky atmospherics focused on drum and bass lockstep, furthers Jamal as something like the Philip Roth of jazz. As an artist he’s refined, distinguished and somehow beyond reproach no matter how connected to the profane and corporeal. Or in this case, funk and groove. And similar to our greatest living author, there’s the feel that everything he’s done since the ’70s feels like a bonus, an extended epilogue. Saturday Morning hits like an extra little gift from someone you’re happy stuck around well beyond the party’s end.”
"All my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal.” High praise from anyone, but when it comes from Miles Davis, you get an idea of Ahmad Jamal’s talent and the kind of influence his ability as a pianist and bandleader has had on jazz throughout his illustrious career.
Born in Pittsburgh, an industrial city with a rich artistic history, including the talents of jazz greats Art Blakey and George Benson, Jamal started playing the piano at the age of three. His uncle first discovered the burgeoning gift and served as his primary motivator before his mum recognised the need to nurture his talent further, accompanying him to see music scholars in Pittsburgh…”
“Ahmad Jamal wears his “living legend” tag lightly. One of the most celebrated pianists in American music for the better part of six decades, he is cited as a seminal influence by some of the world’s most famous musicians. Miles Davis – a man not given to extravagant praise, at least not of other people – freely admitted that he gleaned much of his repertoire and many of the ideas that would revolutionise jazz from Jamal’s famous sessions at the Pershing Lounge in Chicago in the 1950s.
We meet the day after I’ve seen the Pittsburgh-born pianist making one of his now rare public appearances, bringing an adoring Parisian audience to its feet in rapturous applause. It would be understandable if there was an ego to match the legend.
But the neat, prosaic figure that turns up bright and early the next morning confounds all expectations. Looking fit and healthy, and nothing like his 83 years, with a trim white beard and his trademark kufi hat, Mr Jamal – as I’ve been instructed to call him – doesn’t conform to the stereotype of jazz musicians of his generation. For one thing, he’s still alive. He has been up for hours already, preparing his own breakfast, as he always does when he’s on the road, and, it soon transpires, playing the piano in his hotel room…”
2. Ahmad Jamal / Saturday Morning / Jazz Village
Jamal, now in his 80′s, has not lost any of his creative brilliance and unique keyboard touch. Click here to read my review of this album.
"Tabu" from Chucho Valdés's “Border-Free” is one of NPR Music's 100 Favorite Songs of 2013! “Lay back in the cut for the first two-thirds, with Branford Marsalis' serenade. Then, experience the grand unification theory of jazz and Afro-Cuban drums.” http://ow.ly/rKnnz
"Tabu" and Ahmad Jamal's “I Got It Bad & That Ain't Good” from “Saturday Morning” are on Heavy Rotation: Public Radio's Songs Of 2013! http://ow.ly/rKnqg
“My top ten. Full details in today’s Sunday Times [£].
1. AHMAD JAMAL: Saturday Morning (Jazz Village)
2. RADIO STRING QUARTET VIENNA: Posting Joe – Celebrating Weather Report (ACT)
3. GREGORY PORTER: Liquid Spirit (Blue Note)
4. MULATU ASTATKE Sketches of Ethiopia (Jazz Village)…”