Ahmad Jamal has been recording for over 60 years. Here, at 82, he dazzles once again, playing a mix of standards and show tunes with some originals. Jamal has a sound, a touch, a feel, that makes him one of the singular piano talents for me. I can think only of albums by Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans that have moved me – and felt so inspiring – as the finest of Jamal’s work.
And Blue Moon shows him near enough to being at the top of his game. The playful subversion/inversion is still there, toying with themes, allowing the other instrumentalists to state the theme as Jamal dances around it. The balladry work is beautiful, sincere and the performances from the supporting players here is empathetic and spot-on in terms of precision. Drummer Herlin Riley continues on after Idris Muhammad, adding just enough of a New Orleans feel to the stately jazz. There’s a lot of punch to this album from the drums, percussion and bass so perfectly locked in, striking as one.
Check out the title track and This Is The Life. This will give you some idea as to whether this album is for you. But it’s definitely for me. I love this album – I’d been on something of an Ahmad Jamal kick over the last 18 months and this shows, like last year’s Sonny Rollins concert, that we’re blessed to have masters still alive and still playing at a level that would wow and impress if they were half their current age.