Ahmad Jamal

Tranquility

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This hard-to-find recording is of value if only to hear Jamal's interpretation of two Burt Bacharach-Hal David gems from the '60s, "I Say a Little Prayer" and "The Look of Love." Since the early '50s, Jamal has managed to generate commercial appeal within the piano trio format by crafting memorable arrangements without resorting to clich├ęs. (Jamal's trio concept paved the way for the success of Ramsey Lewis, the Three Sounds, and others.) He treats the entire trio -- not just the piano -- as his instrument and has mastered the use of space and dynamic variation in shaping his distinctive group sound. Jamal has a keen sense of formal structure; his concise renderings of standards and pop tunes always offer a fresh take on the familiar by deconstructing and reconstructing melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic themes. This collection is no exception. Check out the bass ostinato which frames Mercer & Mandel's "Emily," or the superimposed rhythms of "Nothing Ever Changes My Love for You." Jamal, himself a major innovator in modern jazz (his significant influence on Miles Davis has been widely noted) is able to continually find inspiration in the developments of other jazz artists. Listen to the modal vamps on his original compositions "Manhattan Reflections" and "Tranquility," inspired by McCoy Tyner's work. Or the reference to Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage in "When I Look in Your Eyes." Though he remains open to new trends in jazz, Jamal's music always retains its essential uniqueness. While not to be ranked amongst his greatest works, Tranquility is a very fine recording and any opportunity to hear this master should not be missed. Along with bassist Jamil Nasser and drummer Frank Gant, Ahmad Jamal makes beautiful and accessible trio music conceived with great depth and clarity.

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