Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ahmad Jamal, jazz pianist

Ahmad Jamal -Ahmad's Blue's [Playlist] 208 Tracks 15 Hours 37 Min

One of Miles Davis' favorite musicians, Ahmad Jamal has a unique approach as a pianist, composer, and arranger that is highly influential and distinctive. Possessed of a light, almost classical touch, and a purveyor of negative space and minimal phrasing (his influence on Davis can certainly be seen here), Jamal worked largely in trio settings and used his conceptions of space and subtlety to create dynamic tensions within the group.

At the same time, the artist's work is rooted firmly in the blues and swings intently, without fail. Ahmad's Blues, the trio's 1958 live date in Washington D.C., demonstrates all of these qualities in spades. Supremely attentive playing by bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier (his brush work on the intricate, gear-shifting "Autumn Leaves" is especially noteworthy) provides groundwork, foil, and shifting frames for Jamal's virtuoso explorations.

The ensemble's work brings new ideas -- the musicians often incorporate understated mambo, fractured swing rhythms, or airy, abstract structures -- to standards ("Stompin' at the Savoy"; "Cheek to Cheek") and to Jamal's own compositions (the delicate "Seleritus"). Ahmad's Blues allows us to eavesdrop on the sophisticated, innovative artist and company at work.
  - Keeping The Idiom Alive

Ahmad Jamal listening in 1961
[Image Credit from Ahmad's 1961 LP," Listen to the Ahmad Jamal Quintet"]
Release Date September 6, 1958
Live Session in Washington D.C.
Duration 01:05:00   

I learned a lot from his recordings. I learned the most in his presence at live concerts in Washington DC in his later years. The description above of his use of space and tension were evident in the way of his carriage and the modulation of his speaking voice carried a masculinity that imploded, or felt it was within an ear attuned to the subtlest of thought and experience.

It was remarkable to hear his music and listen to him looking into your eyes as a man laughing at what was funny.

Gregory E. Woods, Keeper of Stories


Ahmad Jamal, an early influence of Miles Davis, was born July 02, 1930 to create and play jazz piano like no other.

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