Ahmad Jamal

I Remember Duke, Hoagy & Strayhorn

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I Remember Duke, Hoagy & Strayhorn Review

by Scott Yanow

Ahmad Jamal, in paying tribute to Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, and Hoagy Carmichael, performs nearly every selection on this CD at a very slow tempo. Or at least his sidemen do, since the pianist often plays double-time lines, witty quotes from other songs, and occasional violent outbursts. In general, the music is quite thoughtful and subtle, with plenty of surprising ideas and unusual turns. Carmichael gets stiffed a bit (just two songs counting the "Stardust"-inspired "I Remember Hoagy") and a couple of numbers are departures from the theme (including "My Flower," "Never Let Me Go," and "Goodbye"), but most of the melodies come from the Ellington/Strayhorn songbook. Throughout, Ahmad Jamal (with the assistance of bassist Ephriam Wolfolk and drummer Arti Dixson) shows that he can sound relaxed, alert, and swinging at the slowest of paces, making this a set deserving (and perhaps needing) several listens to appreciate fully.

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