Ahmad Jamal this weekend. Joining him is Jamil Suliemann on bass and Frank Gant on drums in this 1971 Radio France studio concert, rebroadcast in 2014 by France Musique. One of the most eloquent practitioners of America’s Classical Music – which Jamal considers Jazz to be and a sentiment I agree 1000% with, Ahmad Jamal continues at 86, performing, recording and spreading the message throughout the world. And this 1971 concert gives some indication just how strong and luxuriant that message has always been.
With a vast recorded catalog of both studio and live recordings, the music of Ahmad Jamal has been a staple in the diet of Jazz aficionados since 1951 when he released his first session for Epic/Okeh Records as The Three Strings. And for some 65 years has been one of the most successful small group leaders in Jazz. Beginning with his breakthrough album At The Pershing, a live recording from his tenure as house band at the Pershing Hotel in Chicago. It was released in 1958 and became an essential album at the time, as it represented the wide spectrum of Jazz; from mainstream standard to experimental, all in one place. It also established Jamal as someone whose interpretation and point of view had across-the-board appeal, something which Jazz in its own period of transition and changing audience needed at the time.
And some 65 years after that first recording, Ahamad Jamal continues to be the balancing point between traditional and experimental; a Musical Guide through the vast and dense landscape of Americas Classical Music.
If you’re just getting into Jazz, discovering bits and pieces here and there, either on your own or via samples, since Jazz has been a base-coat of sounds in contemporary Hip-Hop/Trip-Hop/Trance over the years; here’s the real deal – where some of it came from. With the vast spectrum of music out there, being a sponge soaking everything up is practically a requirement – and not being familiar with the work of Ahmad Jamal really deprives you of a great experience.
Check out this concert and go exploring – all you need are ears and an open mind.