Monday, September 28, 2009

Ahmad JAMAL - Ahmad's Blues 1958

Ahmad JAMAL - Ahmad's Blues 1958
Label: Verve / Chess
Audio CD: (June 21, 1994)


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.
I don't think I risk going off the deep end here by declaring that Ahmad Jamal is simply one of the finest jazz pianists of all time. This CD gives ample proof to that claim. It is a compilation of live recordings made in Chicago in 1958. And the crowd seems most appreciative of the trio's efforts.
Jamal's intelligent use of space and awesome technique give bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier ample opportunity to display their tremendous talents. Ahmad's use of tension and release marked with his sense of humor makes Jamal's music fascinating. And make no mistake, Jamal swings like mad. Ample proof of this can be heard in the final selection, "Let's Fall in Love."
I've listened to this CD many times over. If you've never heard the amazing and enormously talented Mr. Jamal, there's no better place to start than right here.
By Tad Ulrich.
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.
Israel Crosby- Bass
Vernell Fournier- Drums
Ahmad Jamal- Piano
01. Ahmad's Blues (Jamal) 4:05
02. It Could Happen to You (Burke, Van Heusen) 4:15
03. I Wish I Knew (Gordon, Warren) 3:45
04. Autumn Leaves (Kosma, Mercer, Prevert) 7:40
05. Stompin' at the Savoy (Goodman, Razaf, Sampson, Webb) 4:15
06. Cheek to Cheek (Berlin) 4:47
07. The Girl Next Door (Blane, Martin) 3:26
08. Secret Love (Fain, Webster) 3:51
09. Squatty Roo (Hodges) 2:18
10. Taboo (Lecuona, Russell) 4:01
11. Autumn in New York (Duke) 3:18
12. A Gal in Calico (Robin, Schwartz) 4:44
13. That's All (Brandt, Haymes) 2:38
14. Should I? (Brown, Freed) 3:39
15. Seleritus (Jamal) 3:12
16. Let's Fall in Love (Arlen, Koehler) 5:06

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