Emerald City Nights (Jazz Detective)

Ahmad Jamal

Released December 2, 2022

All About Jazz Best Jazz Albums Of 2022






Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse (1963-1964) and (1965-1966) brings forth a collection of previously unissued recordings of the iconic pianist Ahmad Jamal captured live at the hallowed Penthouse jazz club in Seattle, WA between 1963-1968 with trios featuring bassists Richard Evans and Jamil Nasser, and drummers Chuck Lampkin, Vernel Fournier and Frank Gant. Produced for release by “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman and supervised by Ahmad Jamal himself, these recordings were transferred from the original tape reels and mastered for vinyl by the legendary Bernie Grundman.

These first two individual limited-edition 180-gram 2-LP sets (1963-1965 and 1965-1966) are being released at the same time, with a third 2-LP volume (1966-1968) to come at a later date. The deluxe packages include extensive booklets with rare photos by Don Bronstein, Chuck Stewart and others; essays by producer Zev Feldman, journalist Eugene Holley, Jr., radio DJ and original recording engineer Jim Wilke, and son of the Penthouse owner, Charlie Puzzo Jr.; and interviews with pianists Ramsey Lewis and Hiromi (1963-64), Jon Batiste and Kenny Barron (1965-1966), plus producer Marshall Chess of Chess/Argo Records, and others.

Track Listing:

Disc 1

1. Johnny One Note 10:29

2. Minor Adjustments 07:20

3. All of You 06:06

4. Squatty Roo 10:27

Disc 2

1. Bogota 12:16

2. Lollipops & Roses 07:45

3. Tangerine 08:16

4. Keep On Keeping On 08:58

5. Minor Moods 13:48

6. But Not for Me 05:21


Ahmad Jamal: piano

Richard Evans: bass

Jamil Sulieman Nasser: bass, acoustic

Chuck Lampkin: drums

Vernel Fournier: drums

Frank Gant: drums

Recorded March 1965 – September 1966, at the Penthouse, Seattle, WA
Produced for release by Zev Feldman
Co-produced by Andrew Stayman
Executive Producer: Ahmad Jamal
Executive Producers for Elemental Music: Jordi Soley
and Carlos Agustín Calembert
Associate Producers: Zak Shelby-Szyszko, Joe Alterman, Jim Wilke and Charlie Puzzo Jr.


2022 marks the ninety-second year of pianist and composer Ahmad Jamal. An NEA Jazz Master and Grammy winner, in 2007 he was designated a Kennedy Center honoree as a Living Jazz Legend. His first release was The Three Strings (Epic, 1951) and, throughout that decade, he recorded a dozen albums, all in a piano trio format. Of Jamal’s approximately seventy recordings, he has employed orchestras, choirs, and larger ensembles but his catalog includes dozens of trio releases. His groundbreaking At the Pershing: But Not for Me (Argo, 1958) remained on the charts for two years and brought admiration from everyday jazz fans and luminaries such as Miles Davis. Live at Pershing made Jamal a star, albeit one that often appeared at a fixed point in the cosmos, indifferent to the rotation of the Earth. On the strength of his first live recording’s broad appeal, Jamal maintained a healthy following through a subsequent series of innocuous releases. The new label, Jazz Detective, offers listeners Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse, a double-LP spanning 1963 to 1966 performances. The collection effectively establishes that the live Jamal has a more significant musical presence.

Jamal has been a creature of habit, playing with the same musicians for many years and often adhering to a repertoire dominated by standards. However, he has imprinted his unique style of playing even on the most worn-out pieces. Emerald City Nights finds the young Jamal at the peak of his inventiveness in these two volumes of live performances at the Seattle venue. His classically-infused, hard bop “Johnny One Note” shows him to be anything but stuck on a singular approach. On “Minor Adjustments” and “Bogota” Jamal’s fluctuating and weighty playing, combined with Mach 1 speed and European touches, are thoroughly invigorating. He displays his most inventive stylings on “Tangerine” and the mid-tempo “Minor Moods.” Throughout Emerald City Nights, Jamal has solid support from bassists Richard Evans and Jamil Sulieman Nasser and drummers Chuck Lampkin, Vernel Fournier, and Frank Gant.

The hyperbolic jazz advocate Stanley Crouch once asked if Sonny Rollins was “washed up or simply studio averse.” It was an extreme assumption but the premise is valid and it is fair to ponder whether Ahmad Jamal was less ambitious off-stage. His studio recordings demonstrated little growth in technique across five decades of music. But Jamal’s live recordings show a different side of the pianist and that has never been more clearly heard than on Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse. The limited edition double-LP will be issued in November 2022, followed by a two-CD set and digital release in December 2022. A third volume is expected in the future.

Karl Ackerman (All About Jazz)