This collection brings together the early OKeh and Epic recordings of innovative jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal, recorded between 1951 and 1955.
Jamal ushered in a new era of melodic improvisation that stood in sharp contrast to bebop's previous innovations. These recordings were all done in trio settings, where the pianist was accompanied by guitarist Ray Crawford, and either Eddie Calhoun (1951 and 1952) or Israel Crosby on bass. The shimmering solos and light as a feather chord voicings are anything but lightweight. Sharp, harmonic invention, economical yet intuitive phrasing, and a deft sense of time pushed Jamal's star to ascendancy.
Standout cuts here are his "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," which extrapolates the melody into new harmonic terrain; the beautiful arrangement of the traditional "Billy Boy"; Fats Waller's "Squeeze Me" with its beautiful ostinato, and Jamal's glorious read of "Perfidia." The sound on this set is gloriously remastered. There are period liner notes by Nat Hentoff, and a moving and appreciative essay by Randy Weston.
Thom Jurek ~ AllMusicGuide
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