(via Ahmad Jamal’s Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions Shines On WCLK | WCLK)
Ahmad Jamal is one of jazz music’s great innovators going back to the days of Miles and ‘Trane. But don’t lose sight of the fact that his current record Saturday Morning: La Buissonne Studio Sessions sounds as contemporary as any release you can name. This record features a razor sharp quartet playing bass, drums and percussion along with Ahmad on keys that played on Jamal’s last record Blue Moon.
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…”
(via Ahmad Jamal: Saturday Morning)
“I loved Blue Moon, Ahmad Jamal’s album from last year and Saturday Morning is a better record; livelier, it spins in different circles, there’s more flourishes, more colour, more enthusiasm, the percussive groove is fully locked down now – splashes of cymbals and conga accents dive in and around sharp cuts to the hi-hat. And in and around all of this and the warm nod of bass the fingers of Ahmad Jamal dance, his mind races – he flings aspects of so many other songs, classics he’s captured and remembered, into these new compositions. When drummer Herlin Riley wants to fire, in that New Orleans Funk School way, he will. And the intensity lifts in each piece, but Jamal still issues moments where the silence speaks boldly; he’s still in control of so much space within the tunes…
There’s no coasting here – there are wonderful moments where you can get lost in the simple, evocative phrasing, Jamal playing it straight, playing it so precisely but with so much breathing space, so much life in each line. And everything has an edge to it, a sharpness.
It’s another wonderful album from Jamal. One that’ll make you go back through his earlier years too. And good luck ever finding a dud album – this isn’t just a late-career show of form. Though it is of course also that – actually it’s more a case of a continuation, a marvellous musician still charging, still finding joy in this world and ways to communicate that across the keys. To then offer that joy, translating it, for others.
It all sounds so effortless – as the closing coda of the title track reminds us. But there’s so much heart and soul to hear here. Beautiful.”
Jamal has always been unpredictable; it’s part of his charm, and at 83 he’s as wayward as ever. Embarking on Duke Ellington’s I Got it Bad, he finds snatches of other tunes by Duke keep occurring to him, so he stitches them into the fabric of his improvisation. Mischievous and imperious by turns, his piano playing is so packed with ideas and sudden changes of direction that you take for granted the remarkable technique that makes all this invention possible. Because there’s no one like him, he’s immune to fashion and thus always up to date. We’re lucky to have him.
Jamal is a virtuoso in terms of his technique – he just chooses how and when to put that virtuosity on display. He channels influences from a variety of sources. When appropriate, he’ll sound like McCoy Tyner and create an open sound for brief phrases. At other times, he’ll channel Erroll Garner. And some types of phrasing seem to be uniquely his. (via Music Review: Ahmad Jamal – ‘Saturday Morning’ | Blogcritics)
(via New Pittsburgh Courier - Pittsburgh jazz legend Ahmad Jamal shines in Manchester)
"If one were to go by legendary pianist Ahmad Jamal, 83 must be the new 63. He doesn’t look it. He doesn’t act it—and judging by the power, precision, delicacy and rhythmic mastery he displayed at the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, Sept. 28, he can play rings around pianists who are 43.
Joined by bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena, the Pittsburgh native put on a 90-minute show that left the audience alternately bobbing their heads and dropping their jaws at his and the quartet’s tonal and polyrhythmic interplay.
And interplay it was, with all four, especially Badrena, smiling in acknowledgement of each other’s contributions during the eight-song set, which featured compositions from Jamal’s newest CD, “Saturday Morning” as well as variations on themes by artists ranging from George Gershwin to Count Basie.
After an impressive, up-tempo, 10-minute opening jam that allowed Jamal to introduce the band members with brief solos from each, they launched into the melodic and impressionistic title song from the new release. They also played “Silver” a tribute to pianist Horace Silver…”
(via Review: Ahmad Jamal, ‘Saturday Morning’ : NPR)
"Jazz pianist started playing when he was three years old in Pittsburgh, which means he’s now been playing for 80 years. His new album, Saturday Morning, often recalls his elegant trios of yesteryear, with its tightly synchronized arrangements, plenty of open space and a deceptively simple charm.
His old trios were quieter — it’s no surprise when a pianist plays with lots of energy in youth, and then with more reserve when they’re older. But Jamal has gone the other way: over time, he’s become more expansive. Bassist and New Orleans drummer Herlin Riley bring hardcore swing and funk to his new record.
On the composition “Back to the Future,” Jamal slips in an on-the-nose quote from “Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.” But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Jamal is a grand master of seasoning his solos with obvious or covert fragments of songs he’s been collecting all his life. Sometimes those quotes reflect his personal history. A snippet of Morton Gould’s light classic “Pavanne” in the midst of “Firefly” rings bells in the distance. Jamal recorded a cover of “Pavanne” in the 1950s, and his version inspired both ’ “So What” and ‘s “Impressions.” Jamal shows he was tuned to AM radio in the ’60s, quoting ’ “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and The Association’s “Windy.” But a witty quote alone isn’t enough: it’s about where you put it…”
Pianist and Pittsburgh native Ahmad Jamal offers a clear look at his remarkable skills on “Saturday Morning.” He provides highly personal looks at “I’m in the Mood for Love” and “I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good,” which he approaches with his individual look at melody. It can be erratic. It can be a bit offputting, but it is always built around a look at a song that is his alone. A listener who knows his play generally awaits his interpretations with some delight. But the best moments on the album are the 10 minutes spent with the title track, which he says represents all of the enjoyable features of Saturday mornings. The song is a wonderful, easygoing piece that does bring to mind the spirit of that day, from early-morning coffee to shopping and lunch stops. He even includes a three-minute radio version on the album, but the longer one is where its heart is. The album is filled with other Jamal originals, from a driving “Back to the Future” to a more thoughtful “Edith’s Cake.” Naturally, it features the usual good work of his quartet of bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena. Good work always is expected from Jamal, and this album is better that most.
Ahmad Jamal made it to the top of the jazz charts. Who else reigned supreme this week? Find out here.
Get the album here!
Pianist and DownBeat Hall of Fame member Ahmad Jamal is back with a cohesive studio album that radiates positive energy. Saturday Morning was recorded in a French studio in February with bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena. One listen to this disc makes one suspect that Jamal is drinking from a magic fountain of youth. The 1958 live album But Not For Me helped make Jamal a star, and more than half a century later, the master is crafting music that is both spiritually uplifting and intellectually stimulating. On Saturday Morning, the 10-minute title track is anchored by the mighty yet flexible mixture of Veal’s slinky bass and Jamal’s sturdy left-hand work. Among the other original compositions are the quirky “Silver” (written as a tribute to Horace Silver) and the Caribbean-inflected “Back To The Future.” Jamal also offers gorgeous renditions of the standards “I’m In The Mood For Love” and “I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good.” The original tune “The Line” features a funk undercurrent that is built by all four players, and this studio version makes me yearn to hear it in concert. Jamal’s upcoming tour schedule includes an Oct. 12 gig in Davis, Calif., and a three-day residence in Paris Nov. 7–9. Tour details are posted at ahmadjamal.com.
The program of ballads, standards and a few rock-funk beat numbers brings out the very best in Jamal and the trio. Throughout you hear that pioneering use of space, the inventive smarts of his solo interjections and the rhythm section’s heightened role, the ostinatos that set up Jamal’s entrances, and of course Jamal’s chordally full contrasts with single note expressions; it’s all there. But it has evolved, too. He has not stood still.