Music! Music! Music!


From The Brooklyn Rail:

Jamal was not someone, really, whom you’d expect to find at your local nightclub, but he was a fixture at Chicago’s Pershing Hotel—the hoteliers of the day always landed the best talent, for some reason, and they weren’t scared off by jazz’s intellectual edge. The Pershing is where Davis would sit and watch him, ensnared in a musical crush. Nightclub patrons, naturally enough, expected some brio with their Saturday-night entertainment, and there’s some legitimate giddy-up to several of the Pershing cuts included in the Mosaic box, like “Cherokee” and the excitedly titled “(Put Another Nickel In) Music! Music! Music!” All right, then. But beneath the pyrotechnics there are some heady techniques at work, sly recalibrations of tempo and beat to make you wonder what key or meter a given section is in. In the audience watching the proceedings unfold, Miles Davis scarcely knew what to do with himself.

We’re about to get into fanboy territory, but when it’s a born curmudgeon doing the effusing, it tends to count for something. And Davis loved to expatiate on his Jamal-centric pilgrimages to the Pershing: “Listen to the way Jamal uses space. He lets it go so that you can feel the rhythm section and the rhythm section can feel you. It’s not crowded…Ahmad is one of my favorites. I live until he makes another record.” When was the last time something made you feel that way? Living for that next release—that’s when you’ve got them well and truly hooked.

“Diggin’ the Gaps: How Ahmad Jamal Re-Tooled Jazz”, Colin Fleming, The Brooklyn Rail