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Album Review

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."

Customer Reviews

A Jazz Must Have

This is a mandatory addition to any jazz collection. If you don't know Jamal's work, chances are that in listening to this collection you will recognize some of the material anyway, as many of these songs have been covered by other jazz musicians. Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett both regarded Jamal as a big influence, the former being particularly fascinated during the Kind of Blue sessions with Jamal's use of musical space in his airy compositions. Ahmad Jamal has an instantly recognizable style that I could only possibly compare to Bill Evans or Vonce Guaraldi, though his music sounds like neither. "Poinciana" finds him in excellent form, playing a group of entirely satisying numbers with ace musicians who clearly understand what he was trying to do. This is not an experimental album; this is one where Jamal sets the bar for straightforward, but complex jazz. "Ahmad's Blues," "Aki and Uktay" and the title tracks are standouts, though the album flows so well, favorites seem somewhat arbitrary. The only downside I can think of here is the recording quality. For a 50s jazz recording, it's not bad, but because of the fact that many of Jamal's early recordings were marred by audience ado or iffy sound quality, he released "Digital Works" in the 80s, which was a collection of his body of work recorded digitally in a studio, though, that recording lacks the panache of the early material represented here.


Born: July 2, 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...
Full Bio
Poinciana, Ahmad Jamal
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Rock, Hard Bop
  • Released: 1988

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