Monday, February 9, 2015

Ahmad Jamal - Ahmad's Blues

This CD reissues most of the music recorded on one night by the 1958 Ahmad Jamal Trio (which consisted of the pianist/leader, bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier) during a live performance in Washington D.C. Originally released as the LP Ahmad Jamal plus part of Portfolio of Ahmad Jamal, these 16 selections display the uniqueness and tightness of this memorable unit. With great attention paid to dynamics and the use of space yet always swinging (at least lightly), the Ahmad Jamal Trio is heard at its best on such numbers as "It Could Happen to You," "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Squatly Roo," "A Gal in Calico" and "Let's Fall in Love." - by Scott Yanow, AMG

Ahmad Jamal is a seminal name in the hallowed annals of jazz piano artistry, and being a big fan of the jazz piano trio, I knew I had to check some out. I read in Fred Hersch's liner notes to Bill Evans' _Trio '64_ that his other favorite trio is this particular one, with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier, so this seemed like a must-hear. That it is. You can see why Miles Davis dug this guy. Jamal just digs into the *groove* of a tune, playing with it, vamping on it, leaving space for his bandmates to inhabit it, and apparently all the while having a rollicking good time. The playing of this trio throughout this 1958 live performance is absolutely distinctive, and that's a bit part of what makes it such compelling listening. There's the signature tune "Ahmad's Blues", which even if you haven't heard it before, you'll think you have. It's that basic, and yet Jamal didn't pull it off some "standards" list. Then there's the standard-of-standards "Autumn Leaves", but what this trio does with it is amazingly creative. You just have to hear it. And who else would start out "Stompin' at the Savoy" with a quote of "La Marsellaise"?? And these are just examples. It's all that good. Don't miss out. - by Micah Newman,

Artist: Ahmad Jamal Trio
Album: Ahmad's Blues (Live at the Spotlite Club, Washington D.C.)
Year: 1958
Label: GRP (1994)
Runtime: 65:09

1.  Ahmad's Blues (Ahmad Jamal) 4:06
2.  It Could Happen To You (Johnny Burke/Jimmy Van Heusen) 4:15
3.  I Wish I Knew (Mack Gordon/Harry Warren) 3:45
4.  Autumn Leaves (Jacques Prevert/Johnny Mercer/Joseph Kosma) 7:40
5.  Stompin' At The Savoy (Benny Goodman/Chick Webb/Edgar Sampson) 4:15
6.  Cheek To Cheek (Irving Berlin) 4:47
7.  The Girl Next Door (Ralph Blane/Hugh Martin) 3:26
8.  Secret Love (Paul Francis Webster/Sammy Fain) 3:51
9.  Squatty Roo (Johnny Hodges) 2:18
10.  Taboo (S.K. Russel/Margarita Lecuona) 4:01
11.  Autumn In New York (Vernon Duke) 3:18
12.  A Gal In Calico (Leo Robin/Arthur Schwartz) 4:44
13.  That's All (Allen Brandt/Bob Haynes) 2:38
14.  Should I? (Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown) 3:39
15.  Seleritus (Ahmad Jamal) 3:12
16.  Let's Fall In Love (Ted Koehler/Harold Arlen) 5:06

Ahmad Jamal (Piano)
Israel Crosby (Double Bass)
Vernel Fournier (Drums)



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