"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”
"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."
"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…”
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
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.