Album Remarks & Appraisals:
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. The album features original compositions of pure majesty and brilliant new interpretations of classics and standards. Each of the album's nine tracks showcases Jamal's creative reinvention of swing, and provides a pretext for some breathtaking melodies and sophisticated syncopations that are guaranteed to amaze. This special Collector's Edition includes a DVD of his concert at the Olympia in Paris on June 27, 2012. Performing at the very peak of his art, Jamal leads his trio with precision and generosity through melodic acrobatics and syncopated rhythms that will leave you breathless. Blue Moon swings along majestically confirming Ahmad Jamal as the great ambassador, of what he likes to call, 'American classical music.'
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: L'Olympia, Paris, France (06/27/2012); New York, NY (06/27/2012); L'Olympia, Paris, France (10/2011); 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