1. Back to the Future
2. Iíll Always Be With You
3. Saturday Morning
4. Edithís Cake
5. The Line
6. Iím in the Mood for Love
9. I Got It Bad and That Ainít Good
11. Saturday Morning
Ahmad Jamal Ė Piano
Reginald Veal - Double bass
Herlin Riley - Drums
Manolo Badrena - Percussion
Ahmad Jamalís previous album, Blue Moon, left me somewhat puzzled, as you can see
from my review. In this album, once again, he seems to depend rather too much on repeated phrases: ostinati which can become tiresome.
Nonetheless, these riffs serve as a base for Jamal to weave his embroidery on. This is certainly the case with the third and fourth tracks, which have
prominent riffs over which Ahmad improvises with his usual dynamic surprises Ė switching unexpectedly between assertive and allusive. This CD, recorded in
France, proves that this 80-something still has his commanding technique as well as an ability to leave spaces which other musicians might try to fill.
The opening Back to the Future has a repetitive theme with a thump from the bass drum on the first beat of every bar. By contrast, Iíll Always Be With You is a tender ballad. The Line has a reggae feel, with the added percussion emphasizing the exotic sense. It might
almost be something by Monty Alexander.
Iím in the Mood for Love is treated by Jamal like
some of the songs on his previous album, where the melody only makes
occasional appearances Ė more referred to than played. I Got It
Bad and That Ainít Good is more clearly recognizable as Duke
Ellingtonís classic tune. And it is good to hear the hypnotic One
again: a Jamal favourite which shows just what you can do with a riff
of a mere three notes. The album ends with a shortened version of
Ahmadís accompanists follow his every move sympathetically, and they often give shape to Jamalís roaming tendencies. This album may leave listeners
bewildered or even exasperated but, as I said before, pensioners should be allowed their foibles.