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.
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.
Ahmad Jamal/Saturday Morning: The music of this album is as colorful as the strikingly vivid graphics inside and outside the digi-pak. The venerable pianist exhibits an understated sense of abandon in his playing as he moves in and out of the melodies on his ivories, but it’s also the rich percussion of Manolo Badrena that expands and deepens the sounds emanating from the musicianship of the quartet (including Reginald Veal on double bass and Herlin Riley on drums. When the foursome falls into improvisation, the collective interplay is brisk and tasteful. The reprise of the title tune to conclude the eleven tracks reaffirms the continuity of the record and imbues it with a familiarity that further invites repeated (and frequent) hearings.
"Ahmad Jamal makes a much-anticipated return to Atlanta headlining the 2014 Jazz Festival in Piedmont Park Sunday night, May 25. His most recent release Saturday Morning shows him to be as relevant, rhythmic and melodic as ever over the course of a career that goes back five decades.
He’ll join Jay Edwards on Jazz Tones Saturday afternoon to catch up with Atlanta and talk about his upcoming Memorial Day Weekend performance…”
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 Jamalwears 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…”
World Village has forged itself a reputation for excellence on the international musical scene in just a few short years. Seeking out talents from all around the world, carefully designed covers and booklets: these are the key values of the label, which is run by four producers working between France, the USA, Spain and the UK, who pursue an ambitious signing policy.
Jazz Village, the newest label in the Harmonia Mundi family, allows audiences to experience the best of current jazz music, from Europe to the Americas, from traditional to modern, through urban soul and new sound crossbreeds. On the menu: a dozen yearly releases featuring musical veterans, young idols and bright emerging talents.