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This is thrilling, goose bump producing music, with virtuoso performances by reed player James Carter, is one of the best of several generations.
The listener gets to hear this 39-year-old master excel on flute, clarinet, soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones. However, Carter isn't the only five star musician aboard for this ride. He gets high quality work from trumpeter Dwight James, heard also on flugelhorn and an exciting pianist named DD Jackson who on the opener, "Rapid Shave," has a Don Pullen like attack.
Recognizing that the late, great tenor player Stanley Turrentine wrote, recorded and therefore owns "Rapid Shave," Carter exercises his considerable chops on his baritone saxophone. The result is a fierce burner propelled by bassist James Genus and drummer Victor Lewis.
The pace slackens only slightly on track two and "Bro. Dolphy." Carter switches to bass clarinet to honor his hero, multi-instrumentalist Eric Dolphy. Famed guitarist Django Reinhardt composed but never recorded "Pour Ma Vie Demuere." Carter masterfully handles what Reinhardt failed to do on soprano sax. Producer Michael Cuscuna was so moved by Carter's performance that he said, "Carter played with the size, strength and romance of Sidney Bechet. Jackson exposes his mellow side with a gorgeous and lyrical solo. It sounds like a tune Duke Ellington would write and record.
Carter and his crew make room for pair of guest artists on "Sussa Nita," as guitarist Rodney Jones and percussionist Eli Fountain join in to back Carter, this time on tenor.
I can almost guarantee this CD will be on many reviewers' top 10 releases for 2008, at the end of the year.
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Ahmad Jamal is the world's most exciting pianist. Not the youngest but certainly the most exciting.
It all began in Pittsburgh, Pa., when at age 7, he began lessons with Mary Cardwell Dawson. His recording career began in 1951 with his huge hit, "Ahmad's Blues," recorded live at Chicago's Pershing Hotel.
"It's Magic" is his first release in three years, and although he uses the same wonderful musicians — Idris Muhammad on drums, bassist James Cammack and percussionist Manolo Badrena — Jamal offers fresh polyrhythmic adventures but never loses the melody on ballads like "It's Magic," " The Way You Look Tonight," or "Papillon."
"Fitnah" is his closer and any knowledgeable jazz fan will recognize Jamal within the first two or three notes. He will be appearing at Seattle's Jazz Alley, Aug. 7-10.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly jazz radio show 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays on KMHD 89.1 FM. He can be reached at email@example.com.