Ahmad Jamal

Nature: The Essence, Pt. 3

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Still pursuing his own muse, Jamal is up to his usual tricks with his hypnotic vamps and and feverish runs, as ever refusing to toe the line and sound like everyone else. In this, the third installment of his Essence series, Jamal adds a different twist -- a fine jazz steel drum player named Othello Molineaux -- and he mixes a few transfigured standards ("The End of a Love Affair" is completely re-routed through his nervous system) with pieces of his own. The first version (for quartet) of "If I Find You Again" is a magnificent example of the tension Jamal can generate. "And We Were Lovers" and "Chaperon" are huge, borderline bombastic piano solos that ought to erase any doubts that Jamal continues to command one monster keyboard technique. As in the previous Essence entries, a guest horn player shows up briefly, tenorman Stanley Turrentine in epigrammic form on "Devil's in My Den," and the ultra-responsive rhythm section remains Idris Muhammad (drums) and James Cammack (bass).

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