July 24, 2024

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CD review: Ahmad Jamal Trio – The Legendary 1958 Pershing Lounge and Spotlite Club 2022: Video, CD cover

Three CD set containing all of the legendary recordings made by the Ahmad Jamal Trio (with Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier) in 1958 at the Pershing Lounge, in Chicago plus the Spotlite performances taped by the same group later that year. Isolated studio recordings made during that period, and the complete LP Count ‘Em 88, recorded by Jamal with Israel Crosby and Walter Perkins in 1956, have been added as a bonus. This was the music that made Jamal famous.

It may well seem incredulous today, but this material originates from a period when it wasn’t uncommon for successful jazz artists to release two or three albums a year.

At its peak of popularity, the Ahmad Jamal Trio shifted albums in pop-like quantities not usually associated with most jazz players. Such was Jamal’s popularity that he was often dismissed as a lightweight by critics who failed to comprehend that his simplistic style was most appealing, even if most tracks clocked in at under four minutes.

Sure, there were exceptions. The album version of ‘Poinciana’ was an eight minute-plus performance, but when edited down to single length big bucks beckoned. It paved the way for But Not For Me, Jamal’s first album of ‘live’ Pershing Lounge recordings, selling two million copies, reaching No. 3 on the national album charts, remaining amongst the best sellers for over two years.

One purchaser was Miles Davis. Not one to freely hand out plaudits, Miles admitted being greatly influenced by the piano man’s judicious use to time and space to the point of adding Jamal’s treatments of ‘But Not For Me’, ‘Billy Boy’, ‘The Surrey With The Fringe On Top,’ among others, into his own repertoire.

This three CD/58-track collection affirms that with unobtrusive support from Israel Crosby and Vernell Fournier, Jamal’s somewhat unorthodox thinking may have been closest to Erroll Garner in his good humoured approach to vast tracts of the Great American Songbook – punctuated by the occasional bop chart – but he most definitely remained his own man and not to be mistaken for any other player.

CD1

01. Ahmad Jamal – But Not for Me
02. Ahmad Jamal – The Surrey with the Fringe on Top
03. Ahmad Jamal – Moonlight in Vermont
04. Ahmad Jamal – Music! Music! Music! (Put Another Nickel In)
05. Ahmad Jamal – There Is No Greater Love
06. Ahmad Jamal – Poinciana
07. Ahmad Jamal – Woody ‘n You
08. Ahmad Jamal – What’s New?
09. Ahmad Jamal – Too Late Now
10. Ahmad Jamal – All the Things You Are
11. Ahmad Jamal – Cherokee
12. Ahmad Jamal – It Might as Well Be Spring
13. Ahmad Jamal – I’ll Remember April
14. Ahmad Jamal – My Funny Valentine
15. Ahmad Jamal – Gone with the Wind
16. Ahmad Jamal – Billy Boy
17. Ahmad Jamal – It’s You or No One
18. Ahmad Jamal – They Can’t Take That Away from Me
19. Ahmad Jamal – Poor Butterfly
20. Ahmad Jamal – Poinciana (Single Version)
21. Ahmad Jamal – Poinciana (1955 Studio Version)

CD2

01. Ahmad Jamal – Ahmad’s Blues
02. Ahmad Jamal – It Could Happen to You
03. Ahmad Jamal – I Wish I Knew
04. Ahmad Jamal – Autumn Leaves
05. Ahmad Jamal – Stompin’ at the Savoy
06. Ahmad Jamal – Cheek to Cheek
07. Ahmad Jamal – The Girl Next Door
08. Ahmad Jamal – Secret Love
09. Ahmad Jamal – Squatty Roo
10. Ahmad Jamal – Taboo
11. Ahmad Jamal – Autumn in New York
12. Ahmad Jamal – A Gal in Calic
13. Ahmad Jamal – That’s All
14. Ahmad Jamal – Should I?
15. Ahmad Jamal – Seleritus
16. Ahmad Jamal – Let’s Fall in Love

CD3

01. Ahmad Jamal – This Can’t Be Love
02. Ahmad Jamal – Ole Devil Moon
03. Ahmad Jamal – Ivy
04. Ahmad Jamal – Tater Pie
05. Ahmad Jamal – Aki & Ukthay (Brother & Sister)
06. Ahmad Jamal – You Don’t Know What Love Is
07. Ahmad Jamal – I Didn’t Know What Time It Was
08. Ahmad Jamal – So Beats My Heart for You
09. Ahmad Jamal – Our Delight
10. Ahmad Jamal – Soft Winds (Studio)
11. Ahmad Jamal – Secret Love (Studio)
12. Ahmad Jamal – Taking a Chance on Love (Studio)
13. Ahmad Jamal – Volga Boatman
14. Ahmad Jamal – On Green Dolphin Street
15. Ahmad Jamal – How About You?
16. Ahmad Jamal – I Just Can’t See for Lookin’
17. Ahmad Jamal – Beat out One
18. Ahmad Jamal – Maryam
19. Ahmad Jamal – Easy to Remember
20. Ahmad Jamal – Jim Loves Sue
21. Ahmad Jamal – Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year

Legendary 1958 Pershing Lounge and Spotlite Club - Jazz Messengers