Friday, June 8, 2012

Ahmad Jamal 8 Classic Albums Part 1

If ever there is a trio to study it's the incarnations of Ahmad Jamal's from the late 1950s through the early 1960s. Aside from the rich set of examples of both dynamics and space, most of those trio line-ups included Israel Crosby on bass and Vernel Fournier on drums.

Those two, of all of the bassists and drummers I can think of, perfectly complement Jamal's musical vision. I can think of only two other pairings that would have worked with Jamal: Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen, and Percy Heath and Connie Kay. Things have a habit of working out, though, because Brown and Thigpen went on to add their magic to the Oscar Peterson Trio, while Heath and Kay were instrumental in making the Modern Jazz Quartet a seminal ensemble (and probably the closest musically to Jamal's trios.)

In this, and Parts 2 and 3, I am going to discuss a treasure trove of Jamal's earlier recordings: Ahmad Jamal: Eight Classic Albums.

Albums In The Set

Chamber Music of the New Jazz.

This 1955 album is similar in ensemble composition to the early Oscar Peterson Trio format: bass and guitar. The bassist is the venerable Israel Crosby, who has always been my favorite Ahmad Jamal bassist, and Ray Crawford on guitar. The percussion is Crawford playing off his guitar. Here is a clip from the album:

Count 'Em 88.

This 1956 album has Crosby on bass, who is joined by Walter Perkins on drums. Perkins plays with the same rhythmic subtly and dynamics as Vernel Fournier would when he became the mainstay drummer in the trio. I cannot recall any musician with whom Jamal collaborated that did not fit the musical approach of the musicians on this album. Here is a clip from this album:

Live at the Spotlite.

Actually the album, Live at the Spotlite Cafe is out of print, although the one linked to above (and the album cover) contains all of of the tracks on that album plus half again as many. This is from 1958 at the Spotlite Cafe in Washington, DC, with Crosby and Founrier backing Jamal. Here is a track from that album:

Continued in the next post. Enjoy.

No comments: