SFJAZZ also presents Ahmad Jamal on June 13!
“He performs for us at Davies Symphony Hall with a seamless quartet whose grooving sound is flavored by the New Orleans style of drummer Herlin Riley and bassist Reginald Veal and the polyrhythmic pop of Puerto Rican-born percussionist Manolo Badrena.”
Hear Blue Moon on iTunes.
SFJAZZ also presents Ahmad Jamal on June 13!
Listen online to Ahmad Jamal’s interview on BBC Radio 2 with Jamie Cullum! It starts at 25:10 in.
Jamal performs at the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival this Friday in Colorado!
“When you meet someone that truly has the right to use the term ‘legend’ or indeed the “greatest” it’s a brilliant experience and when that person carries the tag/s with such grace it’s mind blowing. Ahmad Jamal is just such a man and at the age of eighty you would not surprised if he thought the world owed him unmitigated respect just because he was an octagerian but he is far from that…”
The Special Collector’s Edition of “Blue Moon” is out now: http://ow.ly/iM07q
“Every now and then a jazz album comes along that becomes an obsession. Ahmad Jamal’s recent trio album Blue Moon is one. I keep listening to certain passages, enjoying the inexplicable way Jamal makes silence eloquent, and the way he interchanges the trio’s roles, lending rhythmic energy to his drummer rather than vice versa…
Though Jamal refuses to appear ‘intellectual’, he’s a supremely intelligent musician. Autumn Rain began with a typically barnstorming introduction which careered through a dozen key-centres, before the trio discreetly restored order with a soft rhythmic bed. Having opened up a vast space, Jamal suddenly closed it in. He returned again and again to the melody’s tiny opening phrase, shifting its position in the bar, adding a note here, subtracting one there.
Keeping a sense of parsimony and focus, alongside bursts of wild exuberance; this is Jamal’s secret. It gives his music-making a delicious ease. We can follow his abstruse harmonic explorations and finger-twisting runs (Jamal has an astonishing technique), because they’re so securely rooted in something simple. It’s all there on the album, which has that mysterious feeling of being already a classic.”
“Those lucky enough to be in attendance witnessed a true master of his chosen Pianist and bandleader trades still at the peak of his powers some 50+ years after his magnum opus At the Pershing/But Not for Me live album. Jamal’s timing and phrasing throughout is a joy to behold. His almost psychic knowledge of where his piano fits into compositions is unparalleled. Of course it helps to have a faultless, well-drilled band at your disposal and a crystal clear PA to be heard through. Watching Jamal humbly point and direct each member individually at various stages and key changes is akin to witnessing a Jazz equivalent of Alfred Hitchcock at work on one of his many classic films…”
Ahmad Jamal’s sharp-suited rhythms and hipster’s sense of space were drawing accolades even before he released his first recordings in the mid-1950s – an up-and-coming Miles Davis was to claim that “all my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal.” The first catchy riff and well-spaced pedal at the Barbican showed why this might have been so. Jamal could have rested on his laurels – he established a firm fan base with his 1958 recording of “Poinciana” – but the pianist’s current band is a cutting-edge quartet whose rhythmic virtuosity matches even Jamal’s vivid imagination and darting flights of fancy.
Jamal takes a stock ingredient – a four-note motif or simple riff, a ballad snippet or soul-jazz line – and uses it as a starting point and foundation for a magical mystery tour of modern music. The opening composition, a new piece called “Saturday Morning”, was sustained by the simplest of riffs, the most basic of funky beats and a chorus-ending “Aaah!” sung quietly by percussionist Manuel Badrena.
With the scene set, Jamal embroidered with raucous thumps and short twinkling lines, full-pedal rumbles and whisper-quiet mists of impressionist chords. The band followed each move and brief change of key, added breaks and turned on a pinhead, ever watchful for the brief signals that guided them…
Sometimes it seemed as if there were four percussionists on stage. Ahmad Jamal’s piano playing is so drenched in rhythm that his quartet can make a sliver of sotto voce melody, twisted this way and that, survive infinite permutations. Whenever he locked into a leisurely vamp with the drummer Herlin Riley, the bassist Reginald Veal and the congas, timbales and chimes of Manolo Badrena, the Weather Report veteran, the 82-year-old master from Pittsburgh proved that you do not need decibels to make gloriously vibrant music.
In the course of two hours, with no interval, Jamal — the greatest living jazz musician, in my opinion — never came close to losing his grip on the audience.
The collector’s edition of Blue Moon is out on Jazz Village tomorrow!
Check out the list of our nominated albums and don’t forget to watch The GRAMMYs this Sunday night! On CBS at 8pm PST (7pm CST).
Ahmad Jamal’s Blue Moon is up for Best Jazz Instrumental!
“Ahmad Jamal brought the inaugural Jazz FM Awards to an exultant close last night at the grade one listed former church, One Marylebone, in central London with a brief set featuring ‘Blue Moon’, on which he was joined by singer Jamie Cullum, who added his distinctive vocals to the standard. Jamal had been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and performed with his band of Reginald Veal on bass, Herlin Riley, drums, and Manolo Badrena, percussion…”