Released October 19, 2009
Jazzweek No1 Year End Jazz Chart 2010
For over six decades, the Pittsburgh-born Pianist/composer Ahmad Jamal’s profound pianism combined Franz Liszt-ian technique, impossible Art Tatum-esque runs and elegant, Errol Garner-style flourishes, with his orchestrally designed arrangements that featured complex interludes and dynamics. Pianists from Ramsey Lewis and Jacky Terrasson, to Brad Mehldau and Eric Reed count him as a major influence, and non-keyboardists, like Miles Davis, openly acknowledged their debt to him.
On ‘A Quiet Time,’ James Cammack’s butter-thick bass lines, and Manolo Badrena’s atmospheric percussion provide the leader with the kind of simpatico support he’s come to expect from his cohorts over the years, buoyed by Kenny Washington’s in-the-pocket drumming, on his first recording with Jamal (in a drum chair that included New Orleans masters like Fournier, Herlin Riley, and Idris Muhammad).
The CD’s eleven tracks are all laced with Jamal’s bottomless reservoir of inventions and dimensions, pulsed by that rhythmic gravity we call swing. Save for the ballad standard “I Hear a Rhapsody,” the rest of the selections were composed by the leader, the majority of them, from 1997 to 2009. The title track, “Paris After Dark,” Flight to Russia,” “My Inspiration” dance and trance with Jamalian Latin tinges.
When most artists say that their next recording is their best ever, it’s usually a just boastful claim. But, to paraphrase that old TV commercial, when Ahmad Jamal records, people listen!
1. Paris After Dark (Ahmad Jamal) 4:56
2. The Love Is Lost (Ahmad Jamal) 4:02
3. Flight to Russia (Ahmad Jamal) 7:45
4. Poetry (Ahmad Jamal) 6:02
5. Hi Fly (Randy Weston) 8:20
6. My Inspiration (Ahmad Jamal) 5:15
7. After JALC (Jazz at Lincoln Center) (Ahmad Jamal) 6:26
8. A Quiet Time (Ahmad Jamal) 6:33
9. Tranquility (Ahmad Jamal) 7:22
10. The Blooming Flower (Ahmad Jamal) 4:29
11. I Hear a Rhapsody (Jack Baker / George Fragos / Dick Gasparre) 5:18
Ahmad Jamal: piano
James Cammack: bass
Manolo Badrena: percussion
Kenny Washington: drums
Recorded July 9-11, 2009
Produced by Ahmad Jamal & Francis Dreyfus
Engineer: Todd Winmill
Mastered by Paul Orofino
Throughout six decades on the jazz scene, pianist Ahmad Jamal has proven it’s possible to be a precise, restrained soloist without sacrificing soul or artistry. Perhaps the lone negative when it comes to his music is familiarity, since anyone remotely knowledgeable about jazz piano will immediately recognize the Jamal style, one that carefully combines elegance, speed and fervor.
Jamal doesn’t veer far from the formula on his latest release, A Quiet Time, though he frequently demonstrates his facility in an area where he often doesn’t get enough credit: his ability to successfully navigate tough, intricate rhythms and textures from other sources besides mainstream jazz.
Some of the best tracks venture into Latin beats and influences, particularly “My Inspiration” and “Paris After Dark,” as well as his adventurous solos and nimble flurries on Randy Weston’s “Hi Fly.” Kenny Washington’s drumming gives Jamal both a formidable anchor and another assertive voice within the ensemble, while bassist James Cammack lays down huge, booming support and also occasionally steps out front with forceful statements. An added bonus is Manolo Badrena’s percussive creativity. He provides strategic additional sounds from a wealth of Latin and African rhythm instruments. But no Jamal disc would be complete without beautiful ballad treatments, and Jamal excels on “I Hear a Rhapsody.” He delivers the melody with flair, then shifts into a rigorous, moving improvisation that both reworks and extends the tune into something that is inventive yet true to the original work. The same can be said for “The Love Is Lost,” “Poetry” and “The Blooming Flower.” He’s at his most dynamic on “After JALC (Jazz at Lincoln Center)” and “Tranquility,” a number first done back in the ’50s and rearranged here in more extensive fashion.
Ron Wynn (JazzTimes)