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Ahmad Jamal: Nature

An influential pianist who has weathered the ups and downs of his five-decade career, Ahmad Jamal prevails with this exciting new album. With his core trio featuring bassist James Cammack and drummer Idris Muhammad, Jamal brilliantly invigorates nine tunes, creating a distinctive sound by adding Othello Molineaux (steel drums on four tracks), and tenor saxophonist Stanley Turrentine (one track). Jamal contributes three accessible originals and you may find yourself humming along with his mellifluous “If I Find You Again,” a pretty Latinate number performed with Molineaux in quartet (the opener) and duo (the finale) settings. Jamal’s keyboard style is always full of power and surprise, a satisfying blend of percussive chords and flowing melody lines, best revealed in his flourishing solo Steinway version of “Chaperon.” At any tempo, Jamal excels with his cohorts, weaving his accompaniment around Molineaux’s streaming melodies and Turrentine’s modern solo, and yielding tight trio workouts with splashy drummer Muhammad and daring bassist Cammack. A first-rate album.

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