Ahmad Jamal: Argo Sessions - JazzWax

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August 05, 2010


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Bill Kirchner

I got to know Vernel Fournier in the late '80s after I played a gig with him in NYC--what a sound and time feel he had!

Some time after that, Vernel had a stroke that ended his playing career and confined him to a wheelchair. Mentally, though, he was unimpaired, so in 1996, saxophonist Arnie Lawrence and I arranged to have him come to The New School one afternoon and speak to the jazz students. He sat in his wheelchair and spoke to a full house (including drummer Tootie Heath, who showed up as well) for 90 minutes about his life and career; you could have heard a proverbial pin drop. "All class," indeed!

Drummer Bill Goodwin once said that a lot of drummers were influenced by Vernel but didn't know it. How true.

Ian Carey

"Happy Moods" was my #1 stress-relief album in college. Thanks for the tip!


With all due respect to the great Oscar Peterson, marc's deft slice is a linguistic delight. I once attended a solo recital by Oscar at which every piece started at an impossible tempo and got faster. The crowd loved it, but sometimes too much is enough.
Influences of Jamal, Garner, and others, can be heard in Red Garland's playing, but he was very much his own man. Red seemed to bring out the best in Miles as well. (Herbie was great, but he sometimes seemed to have Miles just struggling to keep up.) Miles apparently told Red to play like Jamal, just as he told Mobley to play like Rollins. My advice would be: learn from everyone, but play like yourself. I'm sure Red and Hank would've agreed.

Bruce Armstrong

The Ahmad Jamal trio was the very first jazz group I ever saw in person. I was a high school senior on Christmas break in 1962 visiting family in NYC, and my Dad--a big jazz fan--took me to the Embers where we heard Ahmad's trio. In retrospect I realize that his group was the perfect introduction for me to start a lifetime of listening to jazz in clubs. I might have been overwhelmed by a "hard bop" group at that time in my life, but Ahmad in that club setting provided a solid evening of trio jazz and whetted my appetite to hear more of this great music "live!"

Allen Lowe

am I the only who finds that particular Jamal performance (Darn that Dream) to be unbearably shallow? A long trip to nowhere, lots of noodling, glib and disconnected. The emperor is buck naked -

-Allen Lowe

Paul Wood


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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of 55 More Songs," "Anatomy of a Song," "Rock Concert: An Oral History" and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax has won three Jazz Journalists Association awards.
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