Album Remarks & Appraisals:
"The veteran octogenarian pianist Ahmad Jamal has been playing an abundance of gigs in recent times, and this album acts as a timely documentation of his current working band. The sessions were recorded late last year in New York City, with Jamal's stable quartet line-up. Bassman James Cammack might be missing, but Reginald Veal is now shoeing in seamlessly." - BBC Music
"Perhaps because his style of rhythmic conversation is conceptual as much as musical, at 81 years of age pianist Jamal sounds close to his 1950s Chess Records best. It helps that drummer Herlin Riley and bassist Reginald Veal create such a monster groove-machine, but the real masterstroke is the presence of percussionist Manolo Badrena. The title track is an absolute masterpiece, the whole 10 minutes poised on one repeated figure. "Autumn Rain" and "Woody '* You" are almost as good." - The Independent
"These days, there is less of the spare, meticulously placed simplicity that made Jamal a major influence on Miles Davis, although his piano style remains notably clear and direct. He still does extraordinary and fascinating things to old standards, too. There's a really weird treatment of "The Gipsy" here, which I just can't get out of my head. But it's as an impressionist composer that the latter-day Ahmad Jamal really excels. Two of these pieces in particular, "Autumn Rain" and "Morning Mist", are quite exquisite. He has a way of creating slow-moving harmony that exudes gentle calm." - The Observer
"The signature elements of Jamal's style - elegance, lyricism and sophistication on one side; vibrant, ostinato-driven grooves and riffs on the other; all heard, more often than not, during the course of a single tune - are not just still present on Blue Moon, they are still waxing. So too is Jamal's gift for writing arrangements which bring the sound of surprise to even the most familiar material." - All About Jazz
"Pianist Ahmad Jamal is now 81 - and he remains a genius at the art of motivic improvising, repeating a catchy theme while transforming it with fresh melody." - Topix
"Ahmad Jamal received plaudits for his sensitive touch and acute sense of time even before the late Miles Davis told his first rhythm sections to "play like Jamal". Now a vigorous 81, the pianist adds contemporary nuance to a rich orchestral pallet, superbly supported by Herlin Riley and Reginald veal on drums and bass." - Financial Times
"Blue Moon is not just Ahmad Jamal's latest album, it's his latest masterpiece, suffused with a feeling reminiscent of his greatest periods with Chess and Impulse !Original compositions of pure majesty, brilliant new interpretations of American legends (the "film noir", Broadway, the vast open spaces), each of these nine pieces showcases Jamal's creative reinvention of swing, provides a pretext for some breathtaking melodies and calls on sophisticated syncopations that will leave you gasping." - The Urban Flux
All About Jazz - Larry Taylor
In 1958 Pianist Ahmad Jamal burst on the scene with At the Pershing: But Not for Me ( Argo Records), which contained the runaway hit "Poinciana." The song's impact was such that it remains Jamal's signature tune to this day. As sometimes comes with popular success, some jazz critics pulled back, but his championing by other musicians, such as trumpeter Miles Davis in 1955 - citing the pianist as one of his big influences - subdued their effect. Over the decades, Jamal has made many recordings, and his career has prospered internationally.
Blue Moon displays that the octegenarian is still going strong. In recent years, he has surrounded himself with drums and bass, close at hand for spirited give-and-takes. Here, however, he has his now-regular retinue which includes two percussionists. ... read more...
Personnel: Ahmad Jamal (piano); Reginald Veal (double bass); Herlin Riley (drums); Manolo Badrena (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Todd Winmill.
Liner Note Author: Catherine Vallon-Barry.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, New York, NY (10/2011).
Still going strong at the age of 81, legendary jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's love letter to his favorite Broadway, Hollywood, and Great American Songbook classics, Blue Moon, is arguably one of his most accomplished efforts since his Chess/Impulse! heyday. The Pittsburgh virtuoso, once credited by Miles Davis as a major influence on his career, shows that age is no barrier to invention with six exquisite reworkings of postwar standards, from a romantic orchestral take on the title track to Otto Preminger's 1944 film Laura to a delicately whimsical interpretation of Charlie Parker's "Gypsy." Jamal's improvised cluster of chords remains as expressive and sprightly as ever, but it's when drummer Herlin Riley, who along with bassist Reginald Veal (Wynton Marsalis) and percussionist Manolo Badrena (Weather Report) form the backbone of the record, is allowed to let loose that they really spring to life, from the syncopated grooves of the epic 13-minute adaptation of A Life of Her Own's "Invitation," to the Latin rhythms on the title track and Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody'n You," to the surprisingly contemporary R&B beats of Golden Boy show tune "This Is the Life." The simmering lounge pop of "Autumn Rain," the delicate "Morning Mist," and the tender solo "I Remember Italy," a Debussy-esque number inspired by his many travels, all of which are original compositions, are equally majestic. But it's his interpretative skills that ensure Blue Moon will go down as one of Jamal's modern greats. ~ Jon O'Brien
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