Artist/Band: Ahmad Jamal
Release date: 2013/11/07
Venue: Odeon Theatre De L'Europe, Paris
Reviewer name: Dublinjazz.ie
Ahmad Jamal played a series of three concerts in Paris recently. They were sold out months in advance. Small wonder when you consider the rock star-like applause that greeted him when he finally stood up to take a bow at the end of 70 minute set. He was joined by his band of Herlin Riley on Drums, Reginal Veal on Bass and Manolo Badrena on Percussion. The standing ovation continued long after the group had left the stage and long after the customary time period for a return to play an encore. But return they did to play another two songs from Jamal’s latest album Saturday Morning. Again he stood up to rapturous applause and attempted to leave the arena in which he was responsible for creating one of the most electric atmosphere’s I had experienced. However the cheering from the audience could not be ignored and again he was obliged to return.
Jamal is still one of the biggest box office attractions in the world, a mantle he shares with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny.
This was the first concert in Europe Jamal has played since launching his latest album Saturday Morning and it was a presentation concert of that album. If you thought this was going to be a sit-back and in reflection style of concert you would be sadly mistaken. The new album is full of groove and it was tough for the audience not to throw caution to the wind and get up and dance in the aisles. I saw feet stomping, fingers twitching and heads bobbing everywhere I looked.
Jamal has a distinctive rhythm section of bass, drums and percussion. The last instrument brings a wonderful dynamic to the music and ensures vitality to the sound throughout. Jamal opened his set with the title track of his 2012 album Blue Moon, a wonderful arrangement of the old ballad, which is a ballad no more. Turned into a much more up-tempoed version with subtle hints back to the main theme of the original. He finished the concert with a wonderful new arrangement of the title track of a 1978 album he produced called One. Despite overtones to the disco era of the original track this new arrangement is stripped down to reveal a much sharper more precise and funkier version.
Jamal is a man who has no desire to retire early. He is one of the fittest and most alert 83 year olds around. He is also not a man who is going to rest on his back catalogue. The set of music was exclusively made up of tracks from his last two albums Blue Moon and Saturday Morning.
Jamal will be playing the same set of music in Vicar Street on Friday 24th January and I for one cannot wait to hear it all over again, It was an outstanding concert and the Dublin Jazz fan has a lot to look forward to when Jamal comes to town.