Ahmad Jamal ‘Saturday Morning’ (Jazz Village) 4/5

Veteran pianist Ahmad Jamal is in a fine vein of form at present and this album follows on logically from last year’s excellent ‘ Blue Moon’. Once again it is a return to the sound of the mid-1980s ‘Rossiter Road’ period and this is reflected in the composition of the line-up which features members of the old group such as drummer Herlin Riley, percussionist Manolo Badrena alongside bassist Reginald Veal. For very long-term fans of the pianist, a reprise of ‘One’, recorded originally in 1978, will come as a pleasant surprise and the interpretation here is both lyrical and percussive, and will appeal to fans old and new. The subtle and deeply melodic tribute to another pianist of the soul-jazz/hard-bop variety [Horace] ‘Silver’ is a suitably soulful and indeed uplifting number that is totally in keeping with the congenial Horace Silver temperament. What really impresses is that Jamal the composer is still highly inventive enjoying a new lease of freedom and this is typified by the gentle breeze of a tune that is the album title track. Unorthodox, yet enticing is the only way to describe the unusual time signature of ‘The Line’ which flows beautifully with long cascading runs from Jamal. Little wonder that Miles Davis was so enamoured of Jamal’s spatial explorations. There is little sign of any slowing down on this fine set.

Tim Stenhouse