Ahmad Jamal is a survivor: born in 1930 his importance in jazz history seems to grow with age. Now the cover of his new album 'Marseille' won't win him any prizes. The music certainly will.
Does the man has a love affair with Marseille? Fact is that two tracks named 'Marseille', in which a different vocalist (Abd Al Malik or Mina Agossi) offers spoken word, are central to this recording. A record date which leaves us yet again with marvel about Jamal's both gentle and adventurous piano playing.
This was my second Documenta visit. Twenty-five years had gone by since Documenta 9. Curated by my compatriot Jan Hoet it created a big buzz in Belgium so I wanted to see for myself.
Why did I wait so long to visit again? Honestly I don't know. I guess it was never top of mind. Documenta 9 was great after all. Despite the fact that this has been a very mediocre 14th edition of the Kassel exhibition I became enthousiast to return in 2022.
Fridericianum: as always at the heart of documenta
Marta Minujín, Parthenon of Books, 2017, Friedrichsplatz
Digital animation The End by Nikos Alexiou (EMST Collection), Fridericianum
Part of Alvin Lucier's, Sound on Paper, 1985, documenta Halle
Stanley Whitney, installation view, documenta Halle
I got to know John Abercrombie by means of a French TV show covering part of his 'first Quartet' concert at Antibes 1979. That particulary band was a crossover between jazz and chamberlike melodic music. The rythmic part was heavy, stimulating playing by George Mraz and Peter Donald. Richie Beirach was the virtuoso piano player, jazz but with a clearly strong classical training. The communication between the lead instruments was fluent, sometimes hypnotic. Most material performed came from the then actual "Arcade" album on ECM records.
It was easy to recognize that Abercrombie was a distinctive voice in the temporary music landscape. A long list of recordings can be found in the ECM catalogue. Some recordings to look for are:
Timeless (his knock on the door)
Gateway (with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette)
Duo albums with Ralph Towner
Trio albums with Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine
Quartet albums: the first above mentioned and following quartets with amongst others Mark Feldman and Joey Baron
A rather shady view from the highest balcony. Abercrombie with Texier, Romano, Rava and Pansanal in Montpellier, 2006
A rather rare album with all jazz standards: Straight Flight,1979