2LP on 1CD
## 1 - 9 'The Ahmad Jamal Trio' Epic, 1956 (4.5*)
This long-out-of-print LP contains ten titles from a date by the Ahmad Jamal Trio that were not included on the 1989 reissue Poinciana. Jamal was creating quite a stir at the time with his fresh chord voicings and use of space and dynamics. On this album, he performs in a unit with guitarist Ray Crawford and bassist Israel Crosby shortly before he decided to switch to a more conventional piano-bass-drums instrumentation. Among the highlights are "Perfidia," "Love for Sale," "Autumn Leaves" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me." Well worth searching for.
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
## 10 - 19 'Alhambra' Argo, 1961 (4*)
Taken from what were probably bassist Israel Crosby's final recordings with pianist Ahmad Jamal (14 months before the bassist's unexpected death), this LP features the classic version of Jamal's Trio (with drummer Vernell Fournier) playing live at the leader's short-lived Chicago club. The interplay between the musicians was often magical, as can be heard on such numbers as "We Kiss In a Shadow," "Love for Sale," "Broadway" and "Isn't It Romantic."
- Scott Yanow (All Music Guide)
========= from the cover ==========
Artists are, by and large, a dreaming lot. Musicians are no exception; in fact, some of the world's most prolific jazz creators play their melodic trade while envisioning castles rising high into the sky. It is the privilege of each of us to dream and dream and dream again. It falls the lot of a few of us to equip that dream with spurs of driving, realistic ambition and hard-work. And here, the sky watchers are sifted from those solid bricks, out of whom come the pillars of our society.
Reaching modestly for the sun, there stands on Chicago's once elegant Michigan Boulevard, a new structure ironically reminiscent of the old splendor. This edifice is more than a brick and mortar symbol; it is the gossamer culmination of a dream - a dream spun of webs of inspiration and talent, hung together by threads of disappointments and health-sapping devotion. Yet watching the slight, bearded owner walking with quiet pride throughout the elaborate room, one knows instantly that he is savoring the sweet smell of success, and triumph over strife.
Ahmad Jamal was at home regularly at the turn of the 5th decade. Crowds had not yet begun to clamor for his tinkling, happy piano. He played infrequently in local clubs. There was stirring within him that frustrating, incomplete feeling of not knowing the total acceptance of the mass populace ; yet, he was playing music and remaining at home (an ideal situation for the family man). All that was lacking was the financial fruit and the broadened horizon. In the mind 50's "The Hit" was cut and with the subsequent popular demand, Jamal took to the road to become the itinerant musician.
To offset his longing for the warmth and security of his home in Chicago, travelling Jamal began spinning his dream. Cities and countries of the world began to fascinate him and he mentally catalogued the most appealing attributes of each. Of all the lands he visited, actually and vicariously, the far and middle east most impressed the pianist.
In 1960, Ahmad returned to the Windy City to begin the fulfillment of the dream. In 1961, the doors of Ahmad Jamal's Alhambra were opened to the public. Beautifully appointed, boasting a completely imported interior, continental cuisine; the club elegantly speaks of its eastern heritage. There was never a more receptive audience than the members of the press who came out that extra-warm summer afternoon to offer best wishes to the owner-musician.
It was natural and appropriate that the first musical attraction at the new Alhambra should be the Jamal Trio. It was also fitting that, during Jamal's stay there, this session should be cut. The warmth and communion of spirit which prevades throughout the club is reflected here in the harmony and togetherness of the unit. Actually, time and its passage may showthat the flow of this unity went in the opposite direction. In other words, this closeknit unit might have instilled into the Alhambra a healthy shot of its own oneness. If this be true, Alhambra is extremely fortunate.
The tunes recorded here constitute music heard and enjoyed each night during the trio's engagement. Artistically, this is one of the best on-the-spot recordings the group has yet produced. All elements seemed to be right and at the right time.
We share with Jamal and Argo, extreme pleasure and pride in the production of this album which is a landmark in the annais of jazz recording. A prominent jazz artist of national and international acclaim sits at his own piano in his own club and plays his own groove; and he records the event proudly for all posterity. We doff our hat to Ahmad at the Alhambra.