Ahmad Jamal
At the Pershing: But Not for Me



by ZIG USER (25 Reviews)
April 18th, 2023 | 4 replies

Release Date: 1958 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Major Reference

Like many people, I first heard of Ahmad Jamal as the figure who had a decisive influence on Miles Davis in the early 1950s. Intuitively, the great similarity between Davis and Jamal is that they both play only one note when other musicians play three, and sometimes they don't, but are satisfied with silence in the center of the music. But the big surprise is that Jamal and Davis are temperamentally disconnected.

Jamal has none of Davis' meditative intensity, his music is joyful; his piano playing and he loves the high notes, treasuring them as if they were a collection of small, shiny glass animals. Jamal does not have Davis' sense of drama, where a pause in the latter's music creates suspense, whereas for Jamal it is a diversion.

Recorded live on January 16, 1958, this session features a piano trio with great performances by Vernel Fournier on drums, Israel Crosby on bass, and Jamal on piano, whose playing is excellent, always exciting. This album consists only of jazz standards, and all tracks except Poinciana are about two to three minutes long. As for the music selection, it is clearly easy to digest, and one of the reasons for this is the trio playing in a hotel. However, there are some highlights. The opening track, But Not For Me, gives what the listener should expect from the album, a fun and straightforward performance.

No Greater Love is short, but perfect for romantic couples in the audience, its light chords and beats providing a pleasant romantic atmosphere. And finally, Poinciana, the longest track on the album with its eight minutes, has an irresistible up-beat rhythm and light piano. Everything here is fantastic and impossible not to dance to. On the negative side, this album is quite short, at just under half an hour, and its total lack of originals can be a disappointment. Also, there is no enthusiasm from the audience present, they only clap formally at the end of each track, and that cool atmosphere is simply not there.

All in all, "At the Pershing: But Not for Me" is a good album for anyone who wants to start their journey into the world of jazz, because, like "Kind of Blue," there is a strong emphasis on melody that easily attracts listeners. It is melodic and accessible, as well as skillfully played. Ahmad Jamal's piano playing is enjoyable and entertaining, and the rest of the trio delivers a solid performance. This live disc may be a bit overrated, mainly because of Jamal's huge influence on other musicians like Miles Davis, but it's still an essential listen for any jazz fan.

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user ratings (24)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 18th 2023


Album Rating: 3.5

RIP, one of the great masters of jazz piano.

April 18th 2023


thanks for the review, very timely, though im not sure if u forgot to edit something in the 2nd para

anyway u might like Extensions more

Staff Reviewer
April 18th 2023


Really good review

April 20th 2023



it does not appear that the rest of that album is anywhere on streaming but you can find it if you seek souls

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