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Friday, August 23, 2019

CD Review: Ahmad Jamal - Ballades

Ahmad Jamal (piano) + James Cammack (double bass on 3 tracks)
(Review by Lance)

I have to admit that when I first heard Jamal - over 50 years ago - I wasn't immediately enamoured of his playing. There seemed to be too many spaces in contrast to what Peterson and Garner were doing back then. However, with the passage of time, I now see that his minimalism gave credence to the less is more school and he is deserving of his high standing among the pantheon of jazz's all-time greats.

Recorded  at the age of 88 (he's now 89!), his creativity shows no sign of diminishing and I'd unreservedly classify this as one of the greatest jazz solo piano albums ever recorded. The three tracks with longtime associate Cammack on bass maintain the same high standard.

The blurb claims the pianist is following in the footsteps of Chopin, Liszt and Brahms which is a claim that is far from preposterous. Quite the contrary! Jamal's three originals - Marseille, Whisperings and Because I Love You - display all the romanticism of the above masters whilst his interpretations of the standards I Should Care; Poinciana; What's New?; So Rare; Land of Dreams; Emily & Spring is Here/Your Story have never been bettered. In his early days, Jamal was often linked with Garner although I never could see the connection myself but here, if there is an influence it is undoubtedly Bill Evans and it isn't surprising that Jamal links Spring is Here with Evans' Your Story. Evans himself stated that he enjoyed and admired Jamal's playing but denied that the influences were two-way.

Whatever, the sheer musicality of the man means he stands tall in any company be it Peterson, Evans, Chopin or Liszt.
Lance.
Available Sept. 13. Link.

1 comment :

NeilC said...

I knew nothing of him until a few years back and heard a track on Jamie Cullum's show [New Rhumba from his album Chamber music of the New Jazz which was the first album of his I purchased ] and I was hooked purchased lot his albums . He is a must for Sunday mornings after a Saturday night on the tiles.

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