Ahmad JAMAL – It's Magic 2008

Ahmad JAMAL – It’s Magic 2008


Pianist Ahmad Jamal has never been a flashy player, but that’s part of his enduring appeal. His subtle, economical approach (he’d never play 10 notes when one or two would do perfectly) has been popular for decades and even influenced the legendary …   Trumpeter Miles Davis. Jamal still has the magic touch on this program of classy originals and well-chosen standards. What makes MAGIC somewhat special is the presence of the sharp, sturdy, and sure drumming of Idris Muhammad, a veteran of many CTI fusion and smooth jazz classics from the 1970s and `80s.
Last year, the French government has inducted Ahmad Jamal, for his exceptional accomplishments in “American Classical Music,” into its prestigious Order of the Arts and Letters, naming him Officier de L’Ordre Des Arts et Des Lettres (Officer, Order of Arts and Letters). The Order of Arts and Letters, established in 1957 to recognize distinguished artists and writers and others who have contributed significantly to furthering the arts in France and around the world, is one of four French ministerial orders and the highest distinction for artistic or literary contributions. In being nominated to the rank of Officer, Mr. Jamal joins some of the most important American artists and writers including Ornette Coleman, Ralph Waldo Ellison, William Faulkner, Ella Fitzgerald, Allen Ginsberg, Richard Meier, Toni Morrison, Jackson Pollock, Patti Smith, Susan Sontag, and Charles Wadsworth.

Ahmad Jamal is not just a living legend of jazz; he is one of the most inspired and inspiring artists in music today. An important and influential figure in jazz history (he was a key influence on Miles Davis in his formative years, and countless others), he introduced the concepts of space, silence and dramatic dynamics into jazz performance. He continues to influence diverse generation of artists from Herbie Hancock, Hiromi to Matthew Shipp.

Mr. Ahmad Jamal, a National Endowment for the Arts American Jazz Masters Fellowship recipient, is an exclusive Steinway piano artist.

Birdology/Dreyfus Jazz is proud to release Ahmad Jamal’s tenth US release on the French label, It’s Magic, on June 10, 2008. It has been three years since After Fajr, the critically acclaimed album The New York Times declared “one of his best” (Ben Ratliff, May 30, 2005), and Ahmad Jamal has been keeping very busy.

The 77-years old pianist, composer, arranger, producer, manager, and officier (more on that later) has been touring the world, writing new compositions, selling out concert halls, and discovering, producing, and nurturing new talent. Mr. Jamal, who has always known how to get attention and keep it, has been continuously improving his repertoire, never once resting on his laurels.

The eagerly awaited new album, from one of the most revered pianist on the international music scene, is all about remembering the past while continuing to develop new territory. Dedicated to Jean-François Deiber, his friend and producer who passed away just before After Fajr’s release, It’s Magic features six originals, two of which have never been recorded, and three standards with celluloid connection.

From the opening track, “Dynamo,” Ahmad Jamal signals a new direction almost immediately. Often cited for his brilliant and expansive work in a trio format, Ahmad augments his sonic landscape with the percolating beats of percussionist Manolo Badrena, backed by his long-time rhythm section featuring drummer Idris Muhammad and bassist James Cammack. He revisits “Swahililand,” his hauntingly beautiful composition, a concert favorite previously heard on After Fajr (also on 1974’s Jamal Plays Jamal and 1987’s Crystal), with exquisite styling and impressive command. Rarely heard “Back to the Island” is dynamic, showcasing Ahmad’s faultless technique.

Ahmad Jamal delivers an unforgettable interpretation in the title track, “It’s Magic,” the Academy Award nominated song by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne from the film Romance on the High Seas. Ahmad shines, stunningly backed by his trio, traversing the comic highs and lows in a romance of mistaken identities, and elevates the breezy musical number to a lyrical poem.

No stranger to hit songs (Ahmad is one of the few jazz artists to score a Top 10 Pop hit with an instrumental – “Poinciana”), Ahmad has also been sampled extensively by hip-hop artists such as Jay-Z, Nas, and Common, among others. On “Wild is the Wind/Sing,” Ahmad sends up a rollicking take on the popular song “Wild is the Wind” by Ned Washington and Dimitri Tiomkin from Wild is the Wind and “Sing” written by Joe Raposo for Sesame Street (a hit for The Carpenters); and offers an inventive and unusual interpretation of the Academy Award winner for Best Original Song “The Way You Look Tonight” by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields from the Fred Astaire and Ginger Roger’s film Swing Time.

Ahmad Jamal may be one of the last living titans of jazz’s so-called-Golden-Era who continues to redefine modern jazz. Nowhere is this more evident than in “Fitnah” and “Papillon”, two new compositions which have never been recorded.
By Editorial Reviews.
Ahmad Jamal- Piano
James Cammack- Bass
Idris Muhammad- Drums
Manolo Badrena- Percussions
01.Dynamo 4:06
02.Swahililand 3:59
03.Back to the Island 5:53
04.It’s Magic 4:57
05.Wild in the Wind/Sing 9:12
06.The Way You Look Tonight 3:16
07.Arabesque 7:30
08.Papillon 6:27
09.Fitnah 8:33

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