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Ahmad Jamal

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Ray was more interesting than most guitar players, because he had a previous career as a sax player.

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A bit surprised to discover that I have accumulated 15 Ahmad Jamal LPs.  

As I mentioned earlier, those Argo albums were everywhere for short dough in the 1990s.  

Now spinning a self-titled album on Argo, #636, beginning with Lecuona's "Taboo."  

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Ahmad Jamal and Ramsey Lewis lps on Argo are still common in these parts. 

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Jamal is from a time when pianist still had clearly distinguishable individual styles. IIRC he never worked as a sideman, which is rare.He renewed hos style several times. I only got some of the legendary Argo LPs when visiting used LP stores in Paris; in Germany nothing could be found. I really discovered him through his Atlantic albums:

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The trio with Crosby and Fournier was unique. Highly recommended.

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Jamal created the concept of  samples, without even sampling anybody else! His mixes of outbursts, breaks and furtive lines within an ethereal atmosphere can be quite enjoyable. Of his early recordings,  I like the Epic & Okeh records but tends to prefer the live recordings at the Pershing or the Spotlight club. A later recording, Jamal plays Jamal, has great moment(um)s. From his very recent outputs, I have listened to his Olympia concert with Lateef (I only enjoyed the solo Lateef part) and his Marseille recording (solid date).

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Finally undertaking a show I've contemplated for a long time about Jamal's late 1960s/early 70s run of albums for Impulse with Jamil Sulieman Nasser and Frank Gant.  What do other Jamal listeners here think of this period?  (Jsngry, you a fan?  I noticed that you posted "I Say A Little Prayer" from Tranquility).

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I am very much a fan, but keep in mind that that specific band began in 1966, before the move to impulse! although most of their output on Ago/Cadet gave no real inking of what they were all about.

However, this 1965 album, with Nasser & the returning Vernel Fournier, certainly does. I continue to find it fresh and stimulating, and a little surprising, still.

Here's their first record on Cadet that shows what they were going to be on with, skittish/vampy/harmonically static until not/etc. Just very much a playing band on a gig that really might have just required competently showing up and executing the replications.

But yeah, the impulse! albums tend to be very strong, check this out, this is the crux of all things Jamal - at once totally the same as before, but also totally different. That was/is how he improvises, not with licks or lines, but with architecture. Very subtle, and once cannot be faulted for shrugging and walking away.

Same thing, only different.

I like it.

 

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1 hour ago, ghost of miles said:

Finally undertaking a show I've contemplated for a long time about Jamal's late 1960s/early 70s run of albums for Impulse with Jamil Sulieman Nasser and Frank Gant.  What do other Jamal listeners here think of this period?  (Jsngry, you a fan?  I noticed that you posted "I Say A Little Prayer" from Tranquility).

My favorite run of albums by him was made by this band (and Extensions is right up there with them).

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13 hours ago, aparxa said:

Jamal created the concept of  samples, without even sampling anybody else! His mixes of outbursts, breaks and furtive lines within an ethereal atmosphere can be quite enjoyable.

This is a great explanation of his style. He also continues to be a big inspiration for current musicians. Glasper named him as one in a recent video. 

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On 6/22/2020 at 10:52 PM, JSngry said:

I am very much a fan, but keep in mind that that specific band began in 1966, before the move to impulse! although most of their output on Ago/Cadet gave no real inking of what they were all about.

However, this 1965 album, with Nasser & the returning Vernel Fournier, certainly does. I continue to find it fresh and stimulating, and a little surprising, still.

Here's their first record on Cadet that shows what they were going to be on with, skittish/vampy/harmonically static until not/etc. Just very much a playing band on a gig that really might have just required competently showing up and executing the replications.

But yeah, the impulse! albums tend to be very strong, check this out, this is the crux of all things Jamal - at once totally the same as before, but also totally different. That was/is how he improvises, not with licks or lines, but with architecture. Very subtle, and once cannot be faulted for shrugging and walking away.

Same thing, only different.

I like it.

 

Thanks so much for this!  Heat Wave is actually the only Cadet LP from this era that we have in the station's library... I have all of the ABC/Impulse albums from 1968-71.  Haven't heard Extensions yet and will have to check it out, though for purposes of the Night Lights show I'll be focusing on trio with Nasser and Gant... and may include one of the Heat Wave tracks that you reference as a set-up for the ABC/Impulse era.  The Awakening has certainly gotten some recognition over the years (and has evidently been a well-mined source for hiphop samples), but I'm surprised that this particular trio in general hasn't been more celebrated.  Maybe it just looms in the shadow of the prior Crosby/Fournier trio that Mosaic so justifiably documented with their box set.  Also, I hadn't even realized until I started working on this show that Jamal apparently took a hiatus from the music scene for several years in the early 1960s?  

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12 minutes ago, ghost of miles said:

...I'm surprised that this particular trio in general hasn't been more celebrated. 

Hey, there was Rhodes. You know how that goes....

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43 minutes ago, ghost of miles said:

Thanks so much for this!  Heat Wave is actually the only Cadet LP from this era that we have in the station's library... I have all of the ABC/Impulse albums from 1968-71.  Haven't heard Extensions yet and will have to check it out, though for purposes of the Night Lights show I'll be focusing on trio with Nasser and Gant... and may include one of the Heat Wave tracks that you reference as a set-up for the ABC/Impulse era.  The Awakening has certainly gotten some recognition over the years (and has evidently been a well-mined source for hiphop samples), but I'm surprised that this particular trio in general hasn't been more celebrated.  Maybe it just looms in the shadow of the prior Crosby/Fournier trio that Mosaic so justifiably documented with their box set.  Also, I hadn't even realized until I started working on this show that Jamal apparently took a hiatus from the music scene for several years in the early 1960s?  

A hiatus? He released 15 albums from 1960-68.

1960 Happy Moods Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums)
1960 Listen to the Ahmad Jamal Quintet Argo Quintet, with Ray Crawford (guitar), Joe Kennedy (violin), Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums)
1961 All of You Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums); in concert
1961 Ahmad Jamal's Alhambra Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums); in concert
1961 Ahmad Jamal at the Blackhawk Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums); in concert
1962 Macanudo Argo With Art Davis (bass), orchestra
1964 Naked City Theme Argo Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Chuck Lampkin (drums); in concert
1965 The Roar of the Greasepaint Argo Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Chuck Lampkin (drums)
1965 Extensions Argo Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums)
1965 Rhapsody Cadet With Jamil Nasser (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums), orchestra
1966 Heat Wave Cadet Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums)
1967 Cry Young Cadet With Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums), choir
1968 The Bright, the Blue and the Beautiful Cadet With Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums), choir
1968 Tranquility ABC With Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums)
1968 Ahmad Jamal at the Top: Poinciana Revisited Impulse! Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums)

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38 minutes ago, kh1958 said:

A hiatus? He released 15 albums from 1960-68.

1960 Happy Moods Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums)
1960 Listen to the Ahmad Jamal Quintet Argo Quintet, with Ray Crawford (guitar), Joe Kennedy (violin), Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums)
1961 All of You Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums); in concert
1961 Ahmad Jamal's Alhambra Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums); in concert
1961 Ahmad Jamal at the Blackhawk Argo Trio, with Israel Crosby (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums); in concert
1962 Macanudo Argo With Art Davis (bass), orchestra
1964 Naked City Theme Argo Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Chuck Lampkin (drums); in concert
1965 The Roar of the Greasepaint Argo Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Chuck Lampkin (drums)
1965 Extensions Argo Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums)
1965 Rhapsody Cadet With Jamil Nasser (bass), Vernel Fournier (drums), orchestra
1966 Heat Wave Cadet Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums)
1967 Cry Young Cadet With Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums), choir
1968 The Bright, the Blue and the Beautiful Cadet With Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums), choir
1968 Tranquility ABC With Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums)
1968 Ahmad Jamal at the Top: Poinciana Revisited Impulse! Trio, with Jamil Nasser (bass), Frank Gant (drums)

Hiatus was apparently from 1962-64, which is what I meant by several years in the early 1960s.  Source is Wikipedia and isn't footnoted, so I don't take it as gospel, that's for sure... trying to find out more information along those lines.  But even this discography seems to indicate there was indeed some sort of hiatus in the 1962-64 period.  I'm just not sure why he took it.  I sent a bibliographic index request to JazzInstitut, and hopefully that will provide me with a lead or two.  And even though the Mosaic set ends in 1962, I'm going to reread the booklet to see if there's any mention of why he might have stopped recording and performing for a couple of years during this period.

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I've never run across a copy of Cry Young or The Bright, the Blue and the Beautiful. 

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I'm thinking I once read that the hiatus was basically stress-induced, a combination of his club (Alhambra, and no alcohol severed, iirc) folding and Crosby passing. The cat still had some money and wanted to take a break while he still had it.

Can't vouch for that, though, but the chronology does support it.

Interesting replacement for Crosby, Art Davis was, if only in the studio. Crosby left some big shoes to fill. Not at all a flashy or otherwise obvious player, but just listen to him, his tone, his time, just a monster of a bass player, of creating the literal bottom of that trio.

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Posted (edited)

A look into the Tom Lord Disco shows there was no real recording hiatus, with a few tracks recorded in 1963 and 1964. There had been no recordings in 1957. Sometimes there were twelve months in between (e.g. no sessions between December 1962 and December 1963). Argo/Cadet had enough in the can to bridge the gap with unreleased material. 

After Israel Crosby and Vernel Fournier left (or they parted in whatever way, it was several months before Crosby's passing) he needed to look for  a different concept of trio playing, it seems this took a few years and maybe he had felt that he couldn't go on forever with these two and needed that change. Shearing picked them up immediately.

Edited by mikeweil

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, JSngry said:

I'm thinking I once read that the hiatus was basically stress-induced, a combination of his club (Alhambra, and no alcohol severed, iirc) folding and Crosby passing. The cat still had some money and wanted to take a break while he still had it.

Can't vouch for that, though, but the chronology does support it.

Yep, seems you're right.  This is from the 2003 interview with Kenny Washington that's included in the Mosaic booklet:

AJ:  Someone talked me into building a restaurant so I could stay home in the Alhambra and just work there and that's what happened.  So when I built the Alhambra, it was such a headache that I decided to quit everything, dismantle the group and come here (New York City) and go to school.  My long-felt ambition was to go to Julliard.  Of course, that didn't happen.  I started working again.

KW:  So that's why you broke up the trio?

AJ:  As a result of the trauma of opening up the restaurant, 43 employees.  What do I need with a restaurant?  Come on.

Edited by ghost of miles

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Worth noting that not only did Jamal get entrepreneurial about owning a club so he could work for himself (ostensibly?), but that it was a club that did not serve alcohol.

Self-Determination Music comes in many forms.

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And a lovely club it was. I remember catching Freddie Hubbard, James Spaulding , Junie Booth, and Louis Hayes there.

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37 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

And a lovely club it was. I remember catching Freddie Hubbard, James Spaulding , Junie Booth, and Louis Hayes there.

How can you listen to jazz and not drink?

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Close your mouth? :)

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Soma soda pop does too.

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Sweet serendipity!  Around 7:30 this evening I finished putting together the Night Lights show "The Second Great Trio: Ahmad Jamal On Impulse" (it starts going out to stations tomorrow for broadcast this coming week).  An hour later a new post from my friend Luke Gillespie, the jazz piano professor at IU, popped up on IU's Jazz Studies Facebook page:

For African-American Music Appreciation Month we're posting a few of our favorite jazz recordings:
From Luke Gillespie:
Ahmad Jamal Trio The Awakening 1970 (Impulse)
Jamil Sulieman Nassir (also spelled Nasser) - double bass
Frank Gant - drums

I was 13 when this came out, though I didn’t hear it til I bought the LP in Japan when I was 15, and I was hooked. It was this album that taught me how styles (straight 8ths and swing) and meters (4/4 and 3/4) could be mixed and switched inside a given tune’s arrangement. Also, I learned about pedal points, ostinatos, modal playing and chromaticism, hemiolas, the coexistence of rhythmic subdivisions (for example, when drums play double time while bass plays half time or in “2”), playing “in and out” (of time and key), and the use of tertian and quartal harmony from this record.

Also, need to include another record this trio recorded in 1968 called “At the Top: Poinciana Revisited (Live at the Village Gate)” also on Impulse. It includes many of the same things I learned from “The Awakening” and has an excellent example of metric modulation where the dotted quarter note in 3/4 becomes the new quarter note in 4/4 and back again in his original tune “Lament”.

I feel awakened! :g

 

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11 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

For African-American Music Appreciation Month we're posting a few of our favorite jazz recordings:
From Luke Gillespie:
Ahmad Jamal Trio The Awakening 1970 (Impulse)
Jamil Sulieman Nassir (also spelled Nasser) - double bass
Frank Gant - drums

I was 13 when this came out, though I didn’t hear it til I bought the LP in Japan when I was 15, and I was hooked. It was this album that taught me how styles (straight 8ths and swing) and meters (4/4 and 3/4) could be mixed and switched inside a given tune’s arrangement. Also, I learned about pedal points, ostinatos, modal playing and chromaticism, hemiolas, the coexistence of rhythmic subdivisions (for example, when drums play double time while bass plays half time or in “2”), playing “in and out” (of time and key), and the use of tertian and quartal harmony from this record.

Also, need to include another record this trio recorded in 1968 called “At the Top: Poinciana Revisited (Live at the Village Gate)” also on Impulse. It includes many of the same things I learned from “The Awakening” and has an excellent example of metric modulation where the dotted quarter note in 3/4 becomes the new quarter note in 4/4 and back again in his original tune “Lament”.

 

And the thing is, he could have learned those same things from the earlier trios as well! :g

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