15 October 2008

Ahmad Jamal with the Assai Quartet

Ahmad Jamal with the Assai Quartet

Roesch Records RR0042

Ahmad Jamal (Piano)
Ephriam Wolfolk (Bass)
Arti Dixson Drums

Assai Quartet
Suzanne Lefevre (Viola)
Peter Biely (Violin)
Jaroslaw Lis (Violin)
Claude Giron (Cello)

Recorded at Morese Recital Hall, Sprague memorial Hall, Yale University (tracks 1-3), Horizon studios (4,5 & 10), and Jamal's house (6 to 9).

1 Temple Court
2 Comp Time
3 Feast
4 Patouche
5 A Short Piece
6 Pots En Verre - No. 1
7 Pots En Verre - No. 2
8 Pots En Verre - No. 3
9 Pots En Verre - No. 4
10 Everybody Knows

I think this is a remarkable album. It's unlike anything else in Jamal's distinguished discography. This makes it even stranger that this is currently OOP.

There are three different performances here. On the first five tracks Jamal's trio performs original integrated compositions with a string quartet, the next four are solo piano improvisations recorded in Jamal's living room, and the final piece is a ballad by producer David Mills with piano and violin. The first three tracks are live, while 4, 5 and 10 were studio recordings.

The tracks seem to have resulted from David Mills' notion that the virtuosity of European art music and jazz could be integrated. Mills teaches improvisation for string players at the Neighborhood Music School in New Haven, CT USA, and seems to have concocted the idea from his work here. Of course the idea of a clasical-jazz fusion has a long tradition, there was a whole Third Stream thing going on in the 1960s. Here, though, Mills took a classical string quartet made up of conservatoire students at Yale university and put them though some cultural training in African American and African-derived physicality and music from dancer Yaa Johnson and musicologist Richard Harper. He gave the quartet cool amplified instruments, made them improvise in rhythmic settings, and then put them into a live concert with Jamal's trio. There's a short PSB video documentary on this process here

The exuberance of all players is a pleasure to behold, and the music is genuine and unforced. A real joy.


Wallofsound said...

Your choice of formats

mp3 320kbps


Simon666 said...

Thankyou. This is a really fascinating album. I've had frustrating experiences working with classical musicians in other mediums, but the background work you talk about here seems to have been aimed at overcoming some of the traditional problems that arise. Some great stuff here, a true collage rather than a simple "jazz meets classical" experiment ..

Art Simon said...

Great Post! Loved it! It's funny but the sounds of a string quartet hit some synaptic nerve, and are just so _there_.

If you don't have the Andrew Hill Mosaic Box Set yet, I think you'd love the tracks with the string quartet. They are by far my favorite fusing of jazz and classical. The groove is both solid and cerebral. The track "illusion" is just great.

I couldn't find track 9 "Pots en Verre: No. 4" in the flac or mp3 files. Is it out there somewhere? Thanks again!

Wallofsound said...

Glad you like the LP. Sorry about the missing track 9. Not sure what happened there, but several tracks seemed not to go through the flac and mp3 conversion, but only 9 was missing. Let me know if there are other problems and I'll repost the lot. here's track 9 in two formats:



I do have the Andrew Hill Mosaic, and you are right about Illusion. Very different from Jamal in its abstraction, but equally interesting, I think.

sotise said...

lovely post, thanks for your efforts .nice idea to do an ahmad series.
i didnt like Jamal's music years ago(i thought it was mere cocktail trinkling) when i first randomly bought live at the pershing.. ive only come to appreciate it in the last 10 years or so.

GBML said...

Ahmad Jamal @ inconstant sol THAT IS ONE ECLIPSE lol

GBML said...

ok, now this was released on 1998

wallofsound you give the accurated records location but what year? 98?

GBML said...

Me again (sorry not my foul) track 8 is imcomplet!

The total time is 6;09
you mp3 versiononly 1:06

Wallofsound said...

Sorry gbml, not sure what happened. Probably trying to do too many things at once.

Here's a new mp3 of track 8:


My CD says it was released in 1997, and does not say when it was recorded.

Art Simon said...

Thanks for the updated tracks. Again, a great post and much appreciated!

GBML said...

Thank you very much - trying to do too many things @ once? uhmm it sounds familiar to me :-)

rm said...

Thank you very much; According Jean Prince discography the recording year was 1994 (http://www.ahmadjamal.net/discography.pdf)

Philo said...

Ahmad Jamal with the Assai Quartet

What a treat!

The music is wonderful.

I also enjoyed the video and the discography.

Thanks to all.