Miles Davis was, famously, a fan of the pianist Ahmad Jamal, inviting his own pianists – such as Red Garland and Bill Evans – to replicate Jamal’s spacious, hesitant, quietly modernist style. Now aged 87, Jamal is still on top form, his terse, space-filled improvisations punctuated by the trance-like ostinato bass lines of James Cammack and the clattering polyrhythms of drummer Herlin Riley and percussionist Manolo Badrena.
This album features three very different versions of Jamal’s title track: the first a modal instrumental punctuated by meditative arpeggios; the second featuring declamatory poetry by rapper Abd Al Malik; the third a dazzling, coruscating ballad featuring singer Mina Agossi. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of puckish wit: a jerky, Afro Cuban version of Autumn Leaves is interspersed with glancing references to other standards (including chunks of Oliver Nelson’s Stolen Moments), while the groove-based Baalbeck sounds like an acoustic take on the Temptations’ Papa Was a Rolling Stone. At once frisky, funny and funky as hell.
1. Marseille (Instrumental) 8:34
2. Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child 5:47
3. Pots En Verre 8:29
4. Marseille (feat. Abd al Malik) 7:23
5. Autumn Leaves 8:48
6. I Came to See You / You Were Not There 5:55
7. Baalbeck 6:23
8. Marseille (feat. Mina Agossi) 8:14
James Cammack : Double Bass
Herlin Riley : Drums
Manolo Badrena : Percussions
Mina Agossi : Vocals
Abd Al Malik : Vocals