Ahmad Jamal: A Quiet Time (2010)
As one of the most highly influential jazz musicians on earth, pianist Ahmad Jamal enhances that sparkling reputation with his outstanding new studio effort A Quiet Time. The disc features two of the strong supporting players from his previous release, It's Magic (Dreyfus, 2008): James Cammack (bass) and Manolo Badrena (percussion), with Kenny Washington replacing Idris Muhammad on drums.
While the title may imply a relaxed, ballad-heavy session, Jamal takes plenty of opportunities to swing at medium and sometimes quick tempos, though there is a cooler approach than the often aggressive, Latin and African-tinged selections from It's Magic.
Jamal penned nine of the eleven pieces found here. The album-opening "Paris After Dark" offers some of its best overall work. Although the song incorporates multiple rhythmic patterns of varying tempos, the group succeeds in seamlessly weaving them together, suggesting a fanciful journey through the unique districts of the titular city. A highlight is "After JALC (Jazz At Lincoln Center)," a similarly diverse composition that allows the quartet to explore a number of styles and attitudes within the boundaries of a single performance. Named after one of New York City's most famous venues, unfortunately Jamal's liner notes don't offer any reason for the title. Is it a reference to an open-ended jam session following one of Jamal's performances there? Or does the tune simply capture the mood of something that happened after one of said performances? If ever you encounter Jamal in person, be sure to ask him and then report back.
Speaking of the liner notes, writer Eugene Holley, Jr. offers his own reflections on the album, including one unusual, slightly off-putting comment saying that the songs are "pulsed by that Negroidal rhythmic gravity we call swing." It's surprising this made it past the proofreaders, but apparently Jamal didn't mind.
Regardless, Jamal fans will no doubt appreciate A Quiet Time as an essential addition to the master's still-growing canon.
Track Listing: Paris After Dark; The Love Is Lost; Flight to Russia; Poetry; Hi Fly; My Inspiration; After JALC (Jazz at Lincoln Center); A Quiet Time; Tranquility; The Blooming Flower; I Hear a Rhapsody.
Personnel: Ahmad Jamal: piano; James Cammack: bass; Manolo Badrena: percussion; Kenny Washington: drums.