"this is both a recording of an astonishing live jazz event and an extraordinary reminder of what hugely creative figures they’d each been in very different ways…The pairing of drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena makes Jamal's version of ‘Blue Moon’ an incendiary heir to Jamal’s epochal…’Poinciana’.” - 4 STARS, The Buffalo News: http://ow.ly/BfWxO
Live at The Olympia is out tomorrow! http://ow.ly/BeU3W
"This set from the legendary jazzmen Ahmad Jamal and Yusef Lateef proves that these veteran musicians have ideas that are as fresh as any they have ever had. Live at the Olympia is available as a 2 CD and DVD set, with the first disc featuring a set by Jamal at the piano with his quartet, featuring Reginald Veal on double bass, Herlin Riley on drums, and Manolo Badrena on percussion. Lateef joins this quartet on the second disc, adding his own distinctive brand of woodwind playing and singing to the trio’s eclectic sound.
…Jamal performs three of his own compositions—“Autumn Rain,” “I Remember Italy,” and “Morning Mist”—along with several standards. While Jamal’s original tunes are certainly interesting and competently executed, the disc’s most memorable cuts are the group’s creative renderings of jazz standards: a somewhat fragmented Latin feel on “Blue Moon,” a driving, in-the-pocket rendition of “Invitation” that allows Jamal and company to stretch out, and a stop-and-start rendering of “Laura.” As would be expected from an artist of Jamal’s caliber, the playing on these cuts is excellent; Jamal presents his signature bursts of Monk-tinged dissonance, and continually trades musical cues with his bandmates, all the while maintaining a lyrical sensibility and technical precision (as is evident in the rhythm section’s lock-step groove on “Invitation” or Jamal’s blistering right hand runs during “Blue Moon”).
…The best moments on the second disc occur when the late saxophonist, flautist, and vocalist Lateef pushes Jamal’s group out of their musical comfort zone, as he does on his mostly free-form composition “Exatogi,” seamlessly transitioning to his somewhat more conventional “Masara,” although this cut is complete with dissonant flute yelps. Lateef further pulls the group into a gospel-tinged hard bop idiom, contributing vocals on “Trouble in Mind” and “Brother Hold Your Light…”
Live at The Olympia is out next Tuesday! http://ow.ly/Ayee0
"The first CD features [Ahmad Jamal] and his quartet in peak creative form, capturing the daring dynamics and textural minutiae of their studio album Blue Moon High in a pulsating live performance.
The late multi-instrumentalist Yusef Lateef joins the quartet for most of Disc 2, delivering gruff tenor-sax daubs and strange moans and sighs on “Exatogi” and moody flute on “Mascara”. “Trouble in Mind” is one of two idiosyncratic vocals...Highly recommended”
Preorder on Amazon: http://ow.ly/Ayee0
"The first set features the current Jamal quartet on originals – like the dreamy I Remember Italy and standards including a discreetly romantic Laura – and a dynamically funky This Is the Life, full of spirited exchanges with percussionist Manolo Badrena. The second half introduces pioneering world-jazz reeds-player Yusef Lateef, 18 months before his death, and respect for the honoured guest is palpable on the less coquettish character of the grooves. Lateef adds divertingly grumpy tenor-sax blurts and slithers to the quirky Exatogi, and quavery flute to the riffy Masara. But it’s his passionate, yodelly vocal implorings and abstract flute effects on the gospel-steeped Brother Hold Your Light that gives this set a special character, less urbane than usual for Jamal. His 1950s pop hit Poinciana makes an obligatory, and rapturously received, appearance at the end."
Ahmad Jamal and Yusef Lateef's Live at The Olympia in All About Jazz: http://ow.ly/AydC0
"The musicians hit their stride on Bronislau Kaper/Ned Washington’s ‘Invitation,’ with Jamal’s inventive narrative—twisting this way and that—melodically seductive and rhythmically vital…
With four such pronounced rhythmic voices brewing up a collective storm, the sotto voce pulses and melodic elegance of “I Remember Italy” and “Laura” provide a timely swing in mood. Veal’s extended bass solo announces Jamal’s “Morning Mist,” which flits between the delightful melody and the pianist’s arresting improvisational musings. A spare yet swinging arrangement of the Lee Adams/Charles Strouse tune “This is the Life” rounds out the first CD, with Badrena working his percussive magic over Jamal’s extended vamp.
The second CD sees the ninety one year old Lateef guest with Jamal’s quartet, reprising the collaboration that took place at Marciac the previous year. Jamal, however, sits out the thirteen-minute “Exatogi.” Switching between tenor saxophone and flute, Lateef’s meditative sonorities are buoyed by Riley and Badrena’s African-flavored rhythms and accents. Lateef’s wordless lowing has the quality of a spiritual incantation. Jamal joins the ensemble for “Masara,” maintaining a vamp as Lateef hypnotizes with a gently snaking flute improvisation.
Lateef sings on Richard M. Jones’ blues standard from the 1920s “Trouble in Mind,” a role he interpreted on oboe in Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s sextet in the 1960s. Lateef’s vocal on “Brother Hold your Light” is infused with the spirit of gospel, soul and the blues. Jamal’s rhapsodic comping undulates in intensity, while Badrena’s (tambourine-filtered?) contorted cries bring an otherworldy edge to the music…”
The album is out September 9! Preorder it here: http://ow.ly/Ayee0
Coming in September on Jazz Village is Live at l’Olympia by Ahmad Jamal & Yusef Lateef!
This set documents an historic concert that took place in Paris on June 27, 2012. The great Ahmad Jamal, enjoying a return to the jazz charts thanks to his recent releases on Jazz Village, began by playing selections from his album Blue Moon. Then the pianist was joined on stage by the equally legendary Yusef Lateef, who had played with Jamal in the glory days of the Atlantic label. These two artists channeled the past and reinvented the future as they worked their musical magic. The album features two audio discs and a DVD of the complete concert.
Preorder now on Amazon!
Two days later, pianist Ahmad Jamal, fronting a quartet, closed the annual festival with an hour of lengthy, groove-based tunes. Aided by his superlative rhythm section—drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena—plus a 10-minute downpour, Jamal created a musical dialogue by adding percussive piano interjections to danceable rhythms.
Jamal, a master of dynamic range, forcefully pounded out thunderous figures on the low end of his piano, followed by tender runs toward the high end. For most of the night, he played vamps, eschewing a melody-solo structure, for a performance that shifted moods as he saw fit.
Jamal’s voice was at once the most important one on the stage but also simply one aspect of communal music making.
The free-flowing feel of Jamal’s performance was apt for the closing night of a festival that had brought mostly straightahead artists to the park in Midtown Atlanta.