Ahmad Jamal is a legendary Jazz Master who doesn’t look like he is putting a tap on the creativity that continues to flow from every nerve ending. After producing the highly acclaimed album Blue Moon during 2012 that received a Grammy nomination earlier this year Jamal has now completed a new project Saturday Morning that is due for release this month. Saturday Morning is a well balanced combination of old classics by Ahmad and others and entirely new compositions by Jamal. What we end up with is an album that gives a respective tribute to the song writers of the past with some robust and energetic playing while at the same time introducing some wonderful grooves and interplay between a tight and well disciplined quartet.
Jamal’s last project the masterpiece Blue Moon could be said to have reinvented swing and if that’s true then Jamal has added groove to the swing with his latest compositions on this album.
The album opens with a new tune written by Jamal Back to the Future. Herlin Riley lays down a driving rhythm on drums, which is picked up on Piano with a clever little riff. A change of mood on the ballad I’ll Always Be With You the Goetschius/Osser tune is expertly handled with a wonderful patience. The title track Saturday Morning is a simple yet captivating tune with a wonderful interplay between the piano and Reginald Veal on bass. It flows along in a carefree groove with subtle changes of octaves up and down to create a simple yet hypnotic track.
Edith’s Cake, another Jamal penned tune is a tune delivered in a slow reflective mood. One of the beautiful things about this album is that Jamal has used a lot of percussion in the sound delicately performed by Manolo Badrena. Quite a number of the tracks on this album are new compositions which all groove, The Line, Firefly, Silver. Again the message is clear, musicians are coming in and out of tunes, which creates a Chrystal sharp sound and doesn’t attempt to confuse the listener with a wall of sound. This is most evident with one of Jamal’s own compositions One. One is the title track of an album Jamal made back in 1978. Listening to it back it was a product of its time with heavy use of sensitizers, However Jamal has stripped out the clutter and produced a sharp precise piece of music which is far groovier then the original Funk era recording.
There is an arousing rendition of I’m in the mood for love where Jamal performs solo in a powerful performance. One last track worth mentioning is the Webster/Ellington tune I Got it Bad and That Ain’t Good. A lovely rendition of the old favorite but with a cleverly placed segment from Ellington’s Take The A-Train in the arrangement.
Overall this is an album well worth having in your collection as it can easily be said that Ahmad Jamal is not resting on his past glories but is instead seeking to find Valhalla.
The album Saturday Morning is recorded on the Jazzbook Records Label and is now available for purchase in Europe.