Listening to Ahmad Jamal is like eating. It’s something that’s needed for survival. Ahmad crafts sophisticated beats and tones into seemingly simple melodies. The tracks are so seamless that, even though this album is a compilation, the tracks seem naturally juxtaposed. “Pavanne” is the best track and also the most unorthodox. There’s so much blend and variety in the song that it’s hard to describe the numerous beat, style and tempo changes. Ahmad isn’t a straight-forward musician, he zig-zags and flips multiples of four before he’s done.
The Trio of Jamal (piano), Ray Crawford (guitar) and Eddie Calhoun (bass) composed the first six tracks. The rest are played with Israel Crosby on bass instead of Calhoun. Miles Davis was Jamal’s biggest fan. Davis once said, “all of my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal. I live until he makes another record.” A song like “Don’t Blame Me” is a perfect example of Davis’ praise of Jamal’s use of space: “He lets it go so that you can feel the rhythm section and the rhythm section can feel you.” The pauses are very deliberate; the song constantly tries to bring you in. That’s ultimately what Jamal wants to do with his music: bring you in.