14 October 2008

Ahmad Jamal Digital Works

Ahmad Jamal Digital Works

Atlantic Records 781256-2

1. Poinciana
2. But Not For Me
3. Midnight Sun
4. Footprints
5. Once Upon A Time
6. One
7. La Costa
8. Misty
9. MASH (Suicide Is Painless)
10. Biencavo
11. Time For Love
12. Wave

Ahmad Jamal - piano, keyboards
Herlin Riley - drums
Iraj Lashkary - percussion
Larry Ball - bass

I just love the music Ahmad Jamal produced over his fifty-seven year (and counting) career of recording. This album is interesting in the way it tried to harness Jamal's distinctive sound to the then new digital recording techniques and CD format. The cover proudly claims "this is a full digital recording", and the promotional push reminds me of those early 1950s attempts to place jazz at the centre of the hifi and stereo innovations in recording and playback.

If you listen to Jamal's music it is easy to see why Atlantic thought it was ideal for digital recording. The pianist's deft touch and idea of space influenced Miles Davis, and he has always gone to great lengths to produce percussive and precise music with a strong balance to all the instruments in his basically trio format. Here, as was the case for much of his later career, he also uses a percussionist, and like other albums of this period he plays both a Steinway acoustic and electric keyboards (a Fender Rhodes, I think). Larry Ball plays electric bass in a fluid style much suited to Jamal's style, and if the instrumentation and arrangements try just a little to hard to update the Jamal classic sound, it does work.

The tracks are mostly re-recordings of numbers that must have sustained his career, and are a mix of originals, standards, and pop and theme tunes. I'm a real sucker for Poinciana which was probably the first Jamal recording I heard in the 1970s when his records were very hard to find indeed. At least that was true in the UK. This is a great updating (the second it has to be said) nearly thirty years after his initial success. It's hard to imagine that players like Jamal had pop success, but the pianist's early career was supported by Okeh and Chess, although he was also on Impulse!

I know this is a little different from the usual IS shares but give it a listen. This is the first of a few OOP Ahmad Jamal's that I'll make available to add to the close to comprehensive list you can find at Never Enough Rhodes Thanks to Simon for his stirling efforts. I hope you enjoy this one.


Wallofsound said...



I forgot to include artwork, but the cover included in my blog post is fairly high resolution.

Art Simon said...

Cool! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I always liked this record - thanks for reminding me of it.

I never could figure out if the word "Works" in the title is a noun or a verb.

raziel_momo said...

This is the real deal !thank you very much. i've been looking for this one for a long long time.only found it on a very low bitrate and now, here your are brother bringing the ligth to me.my original cd got damaged years ago , i think the material was bad at the beginning because i found another cd (i mean A.J Digital works ) with the same symptoms.So from Morrocco thank again from the bottom of my heart. raziel_momo

sotise said...

lovely, thanks!

mucho.sugoi said...

This album is a masterpiece. It contains the best version of Poinciana that A.J. recorded, amazing versions of Jobim's Wave, and Shorter's Footprints. And fantastic pieces like Biencavo, La costa and Time for love. I adore this album.
Many many many thanks

DW said...

Would you consider a re-up of this?