Jazz 2K: CD Picks of the Week

September 7th, 2012, 12:00 pm by Greg

Reviews by J Hunter

Welcome to the Greater Nippertown jazz scene’s version of the Bermuda Triangle: That amazon nine-day stretch that gives us the Port of Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, Lake George Jazz Weekend and the start of another season for A Place For Jazz… which means, of course, that we need some music to talk about between sets:

Ahmad Jamal: Blue MoonAHMAD JAMAL
Blue Moon
Not all 80-plus guys mumble incoherently to empty chairs. Some, like 81-year old piano icon Ahmad Jamal, take that chair and smash it over the heads of any stereotypes that stand in their way. Jamal still paints beautiful, pastoral pictures on his original “I Remember Italy” and Johnny Mercer’s “Laura”, but he also hits his lines on the reboot of “Autumn Rain” with a haymaker punch that’ll rock you back, and his reboot of the title track to his latest release Blue Moon takes one of the Great American Songbook’s more treacly woe-is-me tunes and flips it soundly on its head. Jamal’s muscular, veteran back-up band gives no quarter, either: Reginald Veal prefaces Jamal’s pulsing attack on “Morning Mist” with an in-the-clear bass solo that will give your sub-woofers some extra work; drummer Herlin Riley’s backbeat on “This Is the Life” lets Jamal dance the way he wants to – floating lightly on some sections, stomping hard on others – while Manolo Badrena’s percussion adds driving, industrial urgency to Bronislau Kaper’s “Invitation” and the Dizzy classic “Woody’n You.” Some things may get meaner as they get older, but when it comes to Ahmad Jamal, they also get better – way better!

Read the rest of this entry »


LIVE: Ahmad Jamal @ the Colonial Theatre, 3/31/12

April 3rd, 2012, 2:00 pm by Greg
Reginald Veal and Ahmad Jamal

Reginald Veal and Ahmad Jamal

Review and photographs by Albert Brooks

On this the last evening before April’s arrival, there was absolutely no fooling around at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. The eminent, inestimably talented pianist Ahmad Jamal was on hand and displayed a mastery of touch, dynamics, lyricism, organizational, harmonic and metric control that was beyond breathtaking!

Read the rest of this entry »

Ahmad Jamal: At 81, still King of the Keyboard and headed for Pittsfield’s Colonial Theatre [Berkshire on Stage]

March 27th, 2012, 12:00 pm by Sara
Ahmad Jamal Comes to the Colonial Theatre on March 31, 2012.

Ahmad Jamal Comes to the Colonial Theatre on March 31, 2012.

Ahmad Jamal has survived longer than almost any other jazz artist, and is playing better than ever. His breezy style crosses over to embrace non-jazz audiences as well. How do you explain it?

“Consistent excellence,” says Ken Franckling in Jazz Notes. “That’s the simplistic accolade for pianist Ahmad Jamal’s music-making. He sustains that level of creativity and inventiveness in every format. At age 81, he’s got a refreshed band and a new recording. Blue Moon explores classic music from American film and Broadway from the 1940s through the 1960s, adding three originals and a fresh take on Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody’n You.” His band here includes bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena. This was Jamal’s first recording of the gorgeous title track, which originated in the 1934 film “Hollywood Party” and was popularized by Billie Holiday, Elvis and Mel Torme. Jamal’s version ought to stand without peer for many fans in the way that he has owned “Poinciana” for decades. This is classic Jamal. Dig it.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

The Cock'N'Bull RestaurantCartoonist John CaldwellCaffe LenaHolly & EvanJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysAdvertise on Nippertown!Berkshire On StageG.C. Haymes