"Together, the sessions of the October 1951 and October 1955 produced 22 songs and over 80 minutes of sensational music. Something had to give, however; the reissued CD was limited to only 80 minutes. So, the solution was to cut one track from the CD (SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE) and make the 80-minute limit. It's not the end of the world, but I agree with Stanley Crouch that SLAUGHTER ON TENTH AVENUE was one of the two "most interesting" pieces by the group, the other being its cover of Morton Gould's PAVANNE (which very cover Crouch observes provided the form for Miles Davis's SO WHAT and the melody for John Coltrane's IMPRESSIONS).
How does one obtain all 22 cuts? There are two ways that come to mind. One, buy this CD and Jamal's POINCIANA (which contains 12 of the sessions' 22 songs, including ...TENTH AVENUE, on the SONY/CBS "Portrait" label). Two, the 22 songs are on two CDs were issued separately on the "Jazzotheque" series of the SONY/CBS Jazz Piano Collection catalogue in Europe."
"OKEH" DOKEY, and THE "EPIC LABEL" SESSIONS are SPECTACULAR!
RBSProds | Deep in the heart of Texas | 11/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Five Stars? This CD deserves SIX!! Highly influential recording! Not only is this one of the GREAT JAZZ TRIOS in history, but it documents an early vestige of the groundbreaking hit "Poinciana" and why no less than Miles Davis himself was mesmerized and influenced enough to record some of the same Jamal songs and, indeed, to imitate the Jamal solo style at times with his trumpet. No? Listen to "Autumn Leaves" here and then go to Cannonball's album "Something Else" and listen to that approximation version, with Hank Jones and Miles Davis both in the role of Mr Jamal. Or listen to the Davis quintet with Red Garland in the role of Mr Jamal. Or listen to "Love For Sale", "Surrey With the Fringe On Top", "Billy Boy", or many others. And Davis readily admitted Jamal's heavy influence on his style, arrangements, and song selection. Even when Miles got away from Jamal-type pianists with Wynton Kelley, Bill Evans, and Herbie Hancock, he was still using the Jamal "pedal points", but they were now calling them "modes" to enable extended solos. But enough with the historical roots and influences, let's examine this tremendous CD.
The Okeh label sessions go back to 1951 but suffer no time lag, they are as current as anything piayed today in modern jazz. Ahmad Jamal was READY when he made his appearance as a performing artist. And super guitarist Ray Crawford is a true star in solos, comping, and imitating a wild bongo with his pizzacato plucking, spinning dazzling lines over and over. Tracks 1 to 4 (from "Surrey...." to "Gal in Calico") are terrific solo performances. "Ari and Ukthay" is fantastic but I wonder how many people skipped that track based on the title alone. The 1955 EPIC label sessions continue the excellent performances and some amazing trio interplay between Jamal, Crawford, and his really disciplined bassists, Israel Crosby and Eddie Calhoun (soon to join Errol Garner in his amazing trios). Pieces D'Resistance, the best of the best, include the endless vamp of "Squeeze Me"; the nonpariel Jamal ballad style shown in "Crazy He Calls Me"; the forward looking "Poinciana"; Miles Davis favorites "Love For Sale" and "Autumn Leaves"; "Pavanne", the amazing interplay of "Rica Pulca", "The Donkey Serenade" and "Perfidia" among many other DIAMOND PERFORMANCES.
"Love For Sale" (track 8) deserves special consideration. It is simply one of the finest trio performances in Jazz History and one of the premier piano solos of this song ever. Jamal deconstructs and re-constructs this song in every way imaginable, all over a driving drumless latin beat that Jamal and Crawford must sustain while driving the song forward. From gentle nuance to two handed cresendos, in over 8 minutes, Jamal covers the piano from end to end, getting into the extreme notes on either end of the piano that most pianists avoid, and making it an AWESOME experience of shifting dynamics. And Ray Crawford plays a killer solo as well. Jamal's 'comping' is exceptional. One of Jazz' great swinging performances. Note how Jamal repeats one note an amazing 18 TIMES in a row after Crawford's solo, a technique that Miles later used to great effect, and it fits perfectly.
I waited decades for the Epic Lable sessions to come back and the wait was worth it. The 24-bit Digital Remastering is outstanding. Now if someone could only find the Chess/ARGO sessions that include the LP "COUNT'EM 88" with "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year", "Volga Boatman", and the superb ballad "Maryam" (sp). And also release the outstanding "HEAT WAVE" recording. These two would make my updated recording collection virtually complete. If you PLEASE!
BTW, this CD will permanently reside in my 5 CD disk rotation forever, never to leave the player again. Thanks, Ahmad.
(NOTE: There were three great piano, guitar, bass trios (and one variation) in the form of Nat Cole, Oscar Moore, Johnny Miller; Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown, Herb Ellis; and the Jamal trio. (The variation would be xylo/vibraharpist Red Norvo, Tal Farlow, and uber-bassist Charles Mingus.) Two of the three, Peterson and Jamal, despite their 'guitar trio' greatness, would become the standard piano, bass, drum unit within a short time in the late 50's to early 60's. Maybe the financial success of Errol Garner's 'trio with drums' was a partial reason. Nat Cole would abandon the trio early on and go into the recording studio to pump out some of history's greatest pop songs, coming back only for cameo appearances within that format. And Mingus would go on to become..Mingus, a legend. But while it lasted, these piano/vibe, guitar, bass trios were fabulous and will never be forgotten.)"
Great Tribute to a High Master
Tad Ulrich | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"High Master? Not my words, but those of Randy Weston in his commentary on Ahmad Jamal published in this cd. Weston himself is a considerable composer and pianist. But, indeed, I also concur with Weston's assessment. Jamal is easily in my top five, hell top three, favorite pianists and this cd gives ample reasons why.
This cd represents all the recordings of Ahmad Jamal, Israel Crosby, Eddie Calhoun and Ray crawford originally released on Epic Records between 1951 and 1955. This is a top quality production from Legacy recordings who produced the POINCIANA cd which had about half the Epic tunes included here. There are liner notes by Nat Hentoff as well as Randy Weston. Also there are nice photos of a young Jamal as well as of the aforementioned musicians (nice to see pics of them). The cd label is also a reproduction of the old yellow Epic LP label.
This cd is absolutely essential for Jamal fans and comes highly recommended to anyone else interested in leading edge jazz piano. There is simply no one else like him. Jamal and crew are very easy and interesting to listen too. And Jamal one of the premiere influences in jazz history. He never strays far from the mid range of emotional expression but where he excells is his inventiveness, superb sense of time, swing and marvelous group interplay. And Crosby, Calhoun and Crawford are the type of truly outstanding musicians to make this interplay possible.
Every tune is outstanding and choosing a favorite is really hard. There is everything from up tempo romps like SURRY and BILLY BOY to Rhumbas like RICO PULPA and ballads OLD DEVIL MOON but I've always loved IT'S EASY TO REMEMBER.
The price is definitely right, so you've no excuse not to pick up a copy of this legendary music. I can guarantee you will be glad you did. "
Shame on me
Pharoah S. Wail | Inner Space | 03/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Why after listening to jazz all this time did I wait until february of 2006 to finally try something by Ahmad Jamal? Shame on me! I've heard people speak of him for years but for whatever reason I just never got around to giving him a try. I'm very happy with this disc being my introduction. It's packed to the brim with great tunes and tasteful playing, and the price is nice.
This is a unique format in terms of instrumentation and how they play together. I really like it. Piano, electric guitar and bass. Ray Crawford on guitar has one of those clean tones, the type most non-jazz fans probably associate with "jazz guitar". Sometimes he solos as you'd expect but sometimes he plays as if he's the drummer. I tend not to be totally in love with his drummer impersonations but that's not what he's usually doing so I can deal with it. He takes some solos that surprised me in terms of how much I liked them, given that my tastes in "jazz guitar" generally revolve almost solely around the 1920s and '30s, and then leap forward to the Sonny Sharrocks, Nels Clines and Tisziji Munozs of the world.
Part of the liner-notes are old Nat Hentoff stuff about how Ahmad struck him as piano-bar jazz. On the one hand I could see that. On the other, no way. I guess one could say this is subtle, restrained jazz oftentimes. If you're in the mood for highspeed pyrotechnics ala Clifford Brown, or cataclysmic explosions ala '66 Coltrane, this is not the disc you'll be popping into the cd player, that is true. Ahmad doesn't often (at least here, the only album of his I own) play with the blues-soaked intensity of Wynton Kelly, nor does he attack the piano the way a Cecil Taylor or Marilyn Crispell might. Not that these 2 men play similarly at all, but I guess if I had to make a "mood comparison" between Ahmad and another famous jazz pianist, I'd make that comparison with Bill Evans. There is an emotional depth coupled with a certain relative lightness of style, if that makes any sense. I know people who truly dislike Bill Evans' music precisely because it doesn't have the bluesy thrust of a Wynton Kelly or the acoustic funk of a Blue Note early '60s session. I'd have to ask, but now having heard him, I imagine those same people may not like Ahmad either, though he does oftentimes have more bounce and blues than Evans.
Maybe it's just because I've never been to a piano bar but in my head, I've never imagined sitting there eating dinner and chatting with friends while largely ignoring (or relegating to mere background tickling of ivories) a musician of the caliber of Ahmad Jamal (and band) on this disc! I'm not even all that happy with how I've worded this. You just have to hear this music.
Based on the other reviews here I wish that other track were included here, as I've never heard it, but I can't say I have anything to complain about with my purchase of this disc. Great sound and delightful playing all around! "
In my top 10 jazz piano recording's
David Ruggles | sacramento Ca | 02/08/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I knew who Ahmad Jamal was from his time with Cannonball Adderley, but this was the first recording I've owned from him. This has become an instant favorite for me, as an audiophile, I rate recording's not only for thier content, but for thier sonic qualities. This recording has both.The clarity and sounstaging is very strong. the percussion hits are incredible as is the bass. He is a very strong player, which really shows through in this recording, sonically, one of my favorites. I love Ahmad's style, his use of time, spacing, he is very clean but at the same time very soulful and complex. I have since bought 3 other recordings from him, and I can say he is right up there with that top tier of jazz greats."