AHMAD JAMAL, BLUE MOON: THE NEW YORK SESSIONS


Recorded in October, 2011, “Blue Moon: The New York Sessions” (Jazz Village) finds pianist and NEA Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal in peak form and, at 81 years of age, playing like a man half his age. And while his playlist includes three originals along with selections from Broadway (“Invitation” “This Is The Life”) and stalwart standards like “Gypsy” and ”Laura,” Jamal plants them in the now, driving his rhythm team, bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena, with a combination of hard grooves and tender contours. It’s rare to hear an artist of Jamal’s age and experience produce a recording that sounds so contemporary and relevant.

Influential on jazz players past and present, including Miles Davis, Jamal refashions “Autumn Rain” (an original from 1986’s “Rossiter Road”) with his syncopated attack on the keys, a signature sound he’s long mastered where Jamal expands tunes, stretching out the tune’s melodic pulse and convulsing it with a snap of a few notes later. It’s expressive and still thrilling, and so it is when Jamal plays as few chords as possible to denote the title track’s melody, preferring a prominent four-note motif to outline the song. You can’t help but smile at Jamal’s inventiveness and that gives “Blue Moon” the distinction of being one of Jamal’s best recordings ever.  (9 tracks; 76 minutes)

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JAZZ IN SPACE: AHMAD JAMAL, BLUE MOON: THE NEW YORK SESSIONS

Monday, April 2, 2012

AHMAD JAMAL, BLUE MOON: THE NEW YORK SESSIONS


Recorded in October, 2011, “Blue Moon: The New York Sessions” (Jazz Village) finds pianist and NEA Jazz Master Ahmad Jamal in peak form and, at 81 years of age, playing like a man half his age. And while his playlist includes three originals along with selections from Broadway (“Invitation” “This Is The Life”) and stalwart standards like “Gypsy” and ”Laura,” Jamal plants them in the now, driving his rhythm team, bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena, with a combination of hard grooves and tender contours. It’s rare to hear an artist of Jamal’s age and experience produce a recording that sounds so contemporary and relevant.

Influential on jazz players past and present, including Miles Davis, Jamal refashions “Autumn Rain” (an original from 1986’s “Rossiter Road”) with his syncopated attack on the keys, a signature sound he’s long mastered where Jamal expands tunes, stretching out the tune’s melodic pulse and convulsing it with a snap of a few notes later. It’s expressive and still thrilling, and so it is when Jamal plays as few chords as possible to denote the title track’s melody, preferring a prominent four-note motif to outline the song. You can’t help but smile at Jamal’s inventiveness and that gives “Blue Moon” the distinction of being one of Jamal’s best recordings ever.  (9 tracks; 76 minutes)

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