The Awakening

The Awakening

After several years with Israel Crosby and Vernel Fournier, the great Ahmad Jamal assembled his next historic trio lineup with bassist Jamil Nasser and drummer Frank Gant. This group recorded for Cadet and then released four albums on the storied Impulse! label (three of them live). One of them, The Awakening, was something of a consensus pick for admirers offering social-media tributes in the wake of Jamal’s death in April 2023, and it’s easy to see why. The vibe is irresistible, as generations of hip-hop artists have long known about Jamal’s expansive harmony and groove—a quarter-century later, two little bars from “I Love Music” (by composer Hale Smith) became the basis for Nas’ “The World Is Yours.” Jamal also offers two originals (“The Awakening,” “Patterns”), two standards (“You’re My Everything,” Tom Jobim’s “Wave”) that brim with creativity, and two post-bop essentials (Herbie Hancock’s “Dolphin Dance,” Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments”) that illustrate Jamal’s ability to rework the modern jazz canon on his own singular terms.

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