10 Songs, 41 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

A Pittsburgher like the late Earl “Fatha” Hines, Ahmad Jamal is also, like Hines, one of the towering piano individualists in jazz—nearing age 90 at the time of this resplendent solo release. Little did we know he was cajoled into recording some solo piano during the sessions that yielded his 2017 full-band album Marseille. The result, Ballades, is an imaginative set that allows Jamal to roam free, though he brings in regular bassist James Cammack on three tracks, including the opening “Marseille” (version number four, following the three from the previous album). There’s also an out-of-tempo reading of “Poinciana,” Jamal’s signature number dating back to the late ’50s, ruminative and dreamy without reference to the drumbeat that made the tune famous. Whether playing standards or originals, or even venturing into late-period Bill Evans with “Your Story,” Jamal turns the keyboard into a magisterial canvas.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A Pittsburgher like the late Earl “Fatha” Hines, Ahmad Jamal is also, like Hines, one of the towering piano individualists in jazz—nearing age 90 at the time of this resplendent solo release. Little did we know he was cajoled into recording some solo piano during the sessions that yielded his 2017 full-band album Marseille. The result, Ballades, is an imaginative set that allows Jamal to roam free, though he brings in regular bassist James Cammack on three tracks, including the opening “Marseille” (version number four, following the three from the previous album). There’s also an out-of-tempo reading of “Poinciana,” Jamal’s signature number dating back to the late ’50s, ruminative and dreamy without reference to the drumbeat that made the tune famous. Whether playing standards or originals, or even venturing into late-period Bill Evans with “Your Story,” Jamal turns the keyboard into a magisterial canvas.

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