Saturday, June 02, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Ahmad Jamal

Artist:Ahmad Jamal
Song:Where Are You?
Album:Chicago Revisited: Live At Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase

Jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's claim to fame is he was a big influence on Miles Davis to the point where in the mid-50s, Davis wanted Red Garland to copy Jamal's playing style. Jamal has always had a very light touch and for most of his career he has led his own trio. And he's still around. He was born Frederick Russell Jones July 2, 1930 in Pittsburgh. He took piano training as a child and was influenced by guys like Erroll Garner, Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson. He joined George Hudson's Orchestra in 1948 and then joined The Four Strings led by violinist Joe Kennedy Jr. When that band split up, he moved to Chicago and converted to Islam as Ahmad Jamal. After being spotted by legendary Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, Jamal signed with Okeh and recorded first as The Three Strings and then as Ahmad Jamal Trio. In 1955, he moved to Chess Records' Argo label and had his biggest commercial success with the top five pop hit Poinciana in 1958. Of course he was criticized for selling out. But I think Jamal's playing style today is the same as it was in the 50s. A lot of pianists like to play a lot of notes. Jamal has a sense of timing and economy that is rarely heard in jazz. He knows how to use the silence between the notes. Jamal remained with Argo/Cadet until 1968. Over the years he has recorded for Impulse, 20th Century, Motown and Atlantic. Where Are You? is from the 1992 CD Chicago Revisited released by Telarc. Musicians are bassist John Heard and drummer Yoron Israel. It's available as a budget CD. Where Are You? was written by Harold Adamson & Jimmy McHugh for the 1937 film Top of the Town and performed in the film by Gertrude Niesen. It was first recorded by jazz singer Mildred Bailey. After it was recorded by jazz singer Chris Conner in 1956 and then by Frank Sinatra in 1957, jazz musicians Ben Webster and Kenny Dorham recorded it. Today the song is a jazz standard but it was never a hit. Ahmad Jamal still tours and his latest CD Blue Moon was released Feb. 2012. He still leads a trio and plays with the same economy he used in the 50s. Here's Ahmad Jamal with bassist James Cammack and drummer Idris Muhammad perfrorming Where Are You? at the 2005 Vienne Jazz Festival in France. This trio recorded the 2003 CD In Search Of Momentum but Chicago Revisited is cheaper.

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