I Remember Italy
This Is the Life
Ahmad Jamal is rightly seen as a giant of 20th-century jazz: the pianist/composer influenced Miles Davis and has led a number of fine trios, and his version of “Poinciana” is a classic. Jamal continues to be a force well into the 21st century, and 2012’s Blue Moon is a gem. Jamal is joined by bassist Reginald Veal, drummer Herlin Riley, and percussionist Manolo Badrena on the album, which includes three originals and six covers. Blue Moon opens with Jamal’s “Autumn Rain,” which finds the pianist displaying his fierce and mellow sides. There’s a nice interplay between trap kit and percussion, and Veal gets funky on bass. Billy Reid’s “The Gypsy,” a song recorded by Charlie Parker in the ‘40s, gets a reading marked by subtly humorous stop-start moments. Another original, “I Remember Italy,” finds Jamal’s impressionism colored by bowed bass, subtle cymbal work, and tinkling percussion. Jamal and Veal give the David Raksin and Johnny Mercer classic “Laura” a full-bodied interpretation, and things wrap with Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody’n You,” where Badrena shines.