Jimmy Amadie: The Philadelphia Story: The Gospel as We Know It

Jimmy Amadie’s story is inspirational. He had a promising start on a jazz career in Philadelphia 50 years ago, then developed tendinitis in his hands so severe that he had to stop performing. Yet his passion to create was strong enough that, by 1997, he had found a way to begin making albums. He would record a song, then wait a few months to let his hands recover with the help of cortisone shots, wraps and stabilizing metal braces. (He has also had many surgeries on his hands.)

The Philadelphia Story is his sixth release. He was able to record it in three sessions over nine months, each featuring a different native Philadelphian added to his trio (bassist Steve Gilmore, drummer Bill Goodwin). The guests are formidable: Randy Brecker, Lew Tabackin and Benny Golson. Amadie wrote special pieces tailored to each of them, and given the courage of Amadie’s commitment, how could the three do anything but play their butts off? Brecker flows; Tabackin wails (and contributes two flute cadenzas with his trademark sense of drama); and Golson gathers himself, then locks in and rolls like a river.

As for Amadie, he makes one elegant, epigrammatic statement after another, of course never wasting a note. He never once sounds like he is playing with pain, but always with joy.

Thomas Conrad

Thomas Conrad has a BA from the University of Utah and an MA from the University of Iowa (where he attended the Writers Workshop). He taught English at Central State University in Ohio, then left the academic world for the private sector. His affiliation with publications such as JazzTimes, Stereophile, The New York City Jazz Record and DownBeat has enabled him to sustain active involvement in two of his passions: music and writing.