Ahmad Jamal: Pavanne




Ahmad Jamal Trio


Poinciana (CBS Portrait RK 44394)

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Ahmad Jamal (piano), Ray Crawford (guitar), Israel Crosby (bass).

Composed by Morton Gould


Recorded: New York, October 25, 1955


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Notwithstanding the valiant efforts of Pops Orchestras and Summertime Symphonies across the land, Americans have never developed a taste for light classics the way our English cousins have. A quickie search of Amazon USA yields numerous hits for British but few for American "Light Music Classics." (Significantly, the first of the latter to appear is a UK import by the New London Orchestra.) Still, we can muster a handful of composers renowned for their less filling contributions, including John Walter Bratton ("Teddy Bears' Picnic"), Raymond Scott ("The Toy Trumpet"), Leroy Anderson ("The Syncopated Clock") and David Rose ("Holiday for Strings").

In such semi-distinguished company resides Morton Gould, from whose American Symphonette No. 2 (1938) comes "Pavanne," as recorded by Ahmad Jamal in 1955. This was a case of natural selection, since no one better epitomized Jazz Lite in the 1950s than Ahmad Jamal. Atop politely micromanaged arrangements custom-tailored for listeners with only half an ear to spare, Jamal tinkled and octaved as unobtrusively as a society pianist during cocktail hour at the Waldorf-Astoria.

To his credit, though, Jamal's "Pavanne" did spawn one or two genuine jazz classics—just not by him. In 1959 Miles Davis tapped it as a source for "So What," which two years later John Coltrane revamped into "Impressions." The music goes round and round, and eventually Jazz Lite becomes substantial. It's worth the wait.

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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