Ahmad Jamal – Emerald City Nights: Live at The Penthouse 1966-1968

Jazz Detective – Street Date December 1st 2023 // LP release date November 24th 2023
Ahmad Jamal - Emerald City Nights: Live at The Penthouse 1966 – 1968

Having always been fascinated by Ahmad Jamal, I am truly delighted by the release of this album. Here is what we know about it: “Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse (1966-1968)” is the third release of previously unreleased recordings by the iconic pianist Ahmad Jamal, captured live at the prestigious jazz club, the Penthouse in Seattle, Washington, between 1966 and 1968. He was joined by the bassist Jamil Nasser and drummer Frank Gant. Produced for release by the “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman and supervised by Ahmad Jamal himself.
Ahmad Jamal, who passed away on April 16th, held a special place in the world of jazz with his unique vision for arrangements, compositions, and precise performance. The first CD opens with “Gloria,” a fantastic piece, followed by a reinterpretation of “Misty” that stretches for over twelve minutes. You are left awestruck and fascinated as the trio reaches its peak. It’s hard to pinpoint any African influence or other elements in the sounds or rhythms, as it’s something entirely different. Ahmad tells us a different story of “Misty”; he becomes a director, turning it into a film. When you reach the end of “Misty,” you feel orphaned. But don’t worry; a few rounds of applause and here comes “Mister Lucky,” giving you a moment to catch your breath, although not really, as you’re swiftly carried into autumn. Yes, you know, “Autumn Leaves.” Here, Ahmad Jamal’s genius shines again. Even if you were not a fan of this song before, his interpretation might just convert you.
Moving on to the second CD, “Corcovado.” You know that tune popularized by Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz, which has seen countless, often mediocre, versions recorded by various artists over the years? Here, again, Ahmad Jamal’s brilliance and vision reinvent the song with passion, offering a fantastic variation. Towards the end of the album, there’s a golden moment when Ahmad Jamal goes solo on “Emily.” In just two minutes and fifty-one seconds, he displays the delicacy and intelligence of an artist. It’s remarkable; you’ll hold your breath. And what a beautiful choice to conclude with “Alfie.” Selecting a closing track is always delicate, but the enchanting quality of “Alfie” does the job beautifully. From my perspective, if you can get the trilogy: the green album (“Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse (1963-1964)”), the blue album (“Emerald City Nights: Live at the Penthouse (1965-1966)”), and the upcoming release on December 1st (“Ahmad Jamal – Emerald City Nights: Live at The Penthouse 1966-1968”), you will be thoroughly satisfied. These are exceptional albums, sonic treasures of immeasurable value.
We extend our gratitude to Ann Braithwaite without whom we couldn’t have made this review possible.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, October 25th 2023


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