Ahmad Jamal, Ballades, Jazz Village **** recommended
You have to bow down and listen to Ahmad Jamal. That is the natural, right, and obvious thing to do – over and over again.
Jamal has been a recording artist since 1951. Now 89 he is still a phenomenon. Duetting in part with bassist James Cammack on a third of the album Ballades is more than a lap of honour, folds in some astounding treatments of standards including a greatest “hit” and is one to cherish. Go straight to ‘Emily’ and of course linger over ‘Poinciana’ that featured on the classic album At the Pershing: But Not for Me. Listen also to the reflective, gently inuring, ‘Whisperings’ one of the three original compositions on the album, a song first recorded by O. C. Smith of ‘Little Green Apples’ fame that Jamal has recorded before. A joy and above all an education – Jamal’s best album since Saturday Morning.