AHMAD JAMAL @ Regattabar

Ahmad Jamal @ Regattabar
Cambridge, MA
11/20/2010
Sam Adams Lager

His entrance was noble; the last one to show up, sitting down while everyone was clapping, and jumping right into something groovy. The band was on queue and picked up right when he did. The tempo was fast at times, and made me think of the fast city streets.

There were moments of release that charged the audience and got us moving in our seats. At other times, things were slower, orchestrated to perfection. There were great solos from all the players, full of improvisation and personality. Manolo Badrena was a creative delight on the percussions. Idris Muhammad was sharp and strong on drums, and James Cammack kept the rhythm and foundation on standing bass.

Ahmad Jamal took the melody and harmony to incredible levels. It was my first impression of him as a musician, and I had no idea he was a major influence on jazz in the 1950s and 1960s. Elements of swing swept the beat from song to song, not wasting a second too long for applause and cheer. My leg kept tapping to the beat underneath the cocktail table, almost spilling my Sam Adams Lager.

I bought his most recent album after the show, and I noticed he was signing autographs after the show. I was the last in line to see him. I told him it was the first time I ever heard his music, and this show made me a fan. He was pleased to hear it, signed the album cover I handed to him, and wished me well as I left. I left him there, knowing he would sit there silently before returning to the stage for a second show. He’s still got it.