Miles once said, "All my inspiration today comes from Ahmad Jamal." These recordings are the reason why. The mid fifties was a fertile time for jazz; fresh, original ensembles were taking shape all over the country. The Modern Jazz Quartet, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Jazz Messengers and the Ahmad Jamal Trio immediately come to mind. Among musicians, each group had its imitators and its creative disciples who took its innovations one step further.
This release compiles all of the originally issued recordings made by the classic Ahmad Jamal Trio with Israel Crosby and Vernel Fournier between 1958 and 1962 (Crosby died on August 11, 1962 at the age of 43). Included here are the legendary club performances taped in 1958 at the Pershing Lounge, in Chicago, as well as the subsequent sets recorded at the Spotlight, the Alhambra and the Blackhawk, plus various other sessions. This was the music that made Jamal famous. As a bonus, nine earlier versions of tunes from our set recorded by different formations of the Jamal trio.
With a beautifully economical piano style full of grace, depth, tone, and plenty of swing, Ahmad Jamal is simply one of the greatest pianists in the history of jazz, but he has been woefully underexposed, even as he has been a giant influence in the genre, on Miles Davis, for one, and Gil Evans, who flirted with Jamal's chamber jazz style…
This performance by pianist Ahmad Jamal was recorded at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, France in 1981 and features such songs as "My Funny Valentine" and "Dolphin Dance."
One of the most individualistic pianists, composers, and arrangers of his generation, Ahmad Jamal's disciplined technique and minimalist style had a huge impact on trumpeter Miles Davis, and Jamal is often cited as contributing to the development of cool jazz throughout the 1950s.
Ahmad Jamal's minimalist style has served him well throughout his career, as he enjoys making frequent sudden detours in the midst of a performance, with his intuitive rhythm section able to adapt on the fly. His longtime bassist James Cammack and drummer Idris Muhammad are joined by Latin percussionist Manolo Badrena for these 2007 sessions.
Well into his golden years, Ahmad Jamal continues to tour and record with the vigor of a man half his age. What is also evident is that his artistic sense is as high as it has ever been, as he consistently doles out fresh new melodies charged by his extraordinary talent, which is hardly reined in.
This fascinating date features pianist Ahmad Jamal at the beginning of his recording career. With guitarist Ray Crawford and either Eddie Calhoun or Israel Crosby on bass, Jamal showcases a style that would be a major influence on Miles Davis' music. Jamal's use of space and dynamics was very different than the style of any other jazz pianist of the era. His versions of "Old Devil Moon," "Will You Still Be Mine?," "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top," and "A Gal in Calico" inspired Miles to record the songs in a similar fashion, and his "Billy Boy" became the basis of a performance by the Red Garland Trio. Most fascinating is Jamal's inventive interpretation of "Pavanne," for it has a section very reminiscent of "So What" (which was not "composed" by Davis until over two years later) and a melody statement that is exactly the same as John Coltrane's "Impressions."