Recent listening, current

Thursday, September 5, 2013

131. Ahmad Jamal / In Search of Momentum (2003)

Jamal is an excellent player, strong as ever and still developing past age 70. In Search of Momentum is a prime example, the kind of record that makes other new things feel stale (here "new" is 2003). His enthusiasm for contrasting percussive block chords with what I like to call 'negative space' on the piano is matchless. His style is ever more rhythm driven, and it's full of energy for standards like "Where Are You." In the opening "In Search Of" he plays with some sly quotes that bring a grin. In "Should I?" he characteristically mixes a heavy left hand with intermittent flourishes of the right, building to thundering crescendos a la Erroll Garner, then reclining in moments of delicate quietude. He works closely with his excellent trio, who are James Cammack on bass and Idris Muhammad (a personal favorite, nice to see him here, too) on drums. Jamal is aggressive and often angular, and his style shouldn't be a stretch for fans of more overtly experimental pianists like Cecil Taylor. O.C. Williams joins Jamal for the beautiful "Whisperings," the album's sole vocal spot and another opportunity for Jamal to stretch out his dynamic approach to the keyboard. And by the way, the liner says that Jamal's hat was designed by Ishmullah's Famous Hats of Oakland, California. Too bad Monk wasn't around long enough to endorse men's haberdashery.

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