2013 Grammy Nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album
"A jazz pianist and educator" is how this guy is described, alongside his VERY LONG list of albums. Holy cow, this guy may have not left the studio since he first stepped into one years back! Let's check out what his latest album has to offer us, shall we folks?
"Autumn Rain" kicks it off in a very live, real way. I already feel like I'm in the club with the band. Ahmad is pounding away on the keys - nothing real melodic here quite yet, and it just does not seem to mesh with that back drum at all… I'm waiting for the stop and realization or some kind of note that this is a joke. But no, that rhythm just keeps going right along. About a minute in he tones it down, but there still doesn't seem to be any harmony happening between the whole set. I guess they sort of get it together halfway through, with the band and Ahmad picking up some crazy intensity. But I'm venturing to guess that the point here to to let the pianist do his thing and the rest just need to keep it nice and regular in the background.
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"The Gypsy (Billy Reid)" is really something different. The backing band doesn't seem as concerned with keeping up their regular beat, and Ahmad comes in and out with his own playing. It seems like this one is really true to its name - a traveling, wondering tune in the night.
"I Remember Italy" automatically has a bias love from me because of its title. But in actuality, it is a very lovely song. It's old world and classic and sweet to the ears. It still sits at about 13 minutes, which is a bit daunting, but if you're like me, you're doing something while it's going on anyway, so it's not really bothersome. Then there's this little pickup part around the four minute mark that makes the memories suddenly take a sadder turn for the introspective, like there's some drama going on. It mellows back out, but I guess we need excitement here and there.
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"Morning Mist" starts with a deep bass plucking right along. That's a bit unexpected on a pianist's record, but maybe it's him playing it. The style seems awfully familiar to his work on the keys so far this album… nope, wait, there he is, with his flourish of playing and making sure every bit of the piano gets a turn to be heard by the audience. Cool thing on this track is, I have to admit, the fact that for a lot of it, the whole thing really does sound like morning mist, and even seems to get into the hectic-ness of the day as it goes on too.
"Woody'n You" finishes this thing off. The whole band's in on the final number, thug naturally the piano is at the fore-front. We even go from mood to mood, as he seems to just be getting the chance to show off different styles of playing along the keys. It's not a bad thing, but a nice way to close out this album for the final track.
So, as always, jazz is a nice genre for the background. And sometimes you even find gems of songs strewn throughout that really move you. And those moments are really incredibly special. But sometimes you just can't force yourself to dig what they're laying down, and the piano just hits too hard, and it's just not your style.