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The Essence, Pt. 1

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Album Review

Mostly recorded in Paris, with two additional tracks from New York, this absorbing collection is a testament to the continuing ability of Ahmad Jamal to startle and engage jazz listeners who are tired of Tyner/Evans clones and want to hear something different. An equal mixture of standards and Jamal compositions, some of which move through several contrasting sections, this CD reaches its peaks when Jamal and company dive in and work around a single bass ostinato and a propulsive rhythm groove. Bassists James Cammack (Paris) and Jamil Nasser (New York) provide the former, drummer Idris Muhammad and percussionist Manolo Badrena are in charge of the latter, and a tough-sounding George Coleman turns up on tenor on the New York tracks. One fascinating quirk — Jamal seemed fixated upon Oliver Nelson's "Stolen Moments" at these sessions, for he quotes the tune several times on the album. These sessions were so fruitful that Verve was able to serve up a tasty second helping a year later. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi


Born: 02 July 1930 in Pittsburgh, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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. Though Jamal was a highly technically proficient player, well-versed in the gymnastic idioms of swing and bebop, he chose to play in a more pared down and nuanced style. Which is to say that while he played with the skill...
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