The 1970s was a turbulent time for a lot of so-called “straight-ahead” jazz musicians, although I’d hardly call Ahmad Jamal a straight-ahead jazz musician because he’s more than that. But in the years before this, he’d done a number of electric and pop-ish records like Jamalca
. Now, on Live at Bubba's
(Who's Who WWLP21021), which he did with the same rhythm section in about 1980, he seemed to have gone back to 1961 to regroup, and then traverse from there. But with “Close Enough for Love,” it seems that he was on to the next phase of his artistry. We get to hear him on a superior instrument, and you get an even deeper sense of his romanticism—you hear the fullness and robustness of his sound. Ahmad Jamal is a two-handed piano player. He plays the whole piano. He’ll use that absolutely lowest A on the Steinway, or the extra octave down if he’s on the Bosendorfer, and he’ll use that highest C. He recognizes that you get a different tonality and timbre if you press the pedal all the way down or halfway down, that each octave on the piano carries its own character—if you play an octave from middle-C up, it will sing a certain way; if you play two octaves down, and you’re not careful, it’s going to become real muddy. His understanding of weight, tone, touch and sensitivity come out on here. This record, which was recorded live at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, could also be called The Real Ahmad Jamal,
because you’re truly hearing his full capabilities.
Tags: close enough for love
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