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January 27, 2014

BeatTips MusicStudy: Ahmad Jamal Trio - "Darn That Dream"

Genius and the Intimate Intensity of an After Hours Lounge

By AMIR SAID (SA'ID)

The beatmaking community/culture shares a number of similarities to the jazz community of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. Both communities/cultures were comprised of what I like to call "anonymous heroes," acclaimed musicians not necessarily known by the general public or even the broader musical scene, yet fervently respected among their peers. Another parallel that I also like to draw between the jazz and beatmaking communities deals with the appreciation of the music itself.

In this video of the Ahmad Jamal Trio, you can't help but be struck by the sheer reverence and appreciation for the music. The incredible talent of the Ahmad Jamal Trio notwithstanding, one gets the feeling that performances like these were as much comfort zone, therapeutic sessions for the musicians as they were rare moments of musical genius. I find this akin to the road many beatmakers follow today.

Under the masterful leadership of Ahmad Jamal (piano), the trio, balanced out by Israel Crosby (bass), and Vernel Fournier (drums), cooked up a sort of smoky lounge blues: something intimate and certain yet more alluring because of the "3am setting" that seemed to encompass their sound. The Ahmad Jamal Trio's music was thrilling not for a number of obvious frills (often found in quartets and larger outfits) but for its various subtle challenges.

With "Darn That Dream," presented for MusicStudy, you truly hear what makes the Ahmad Jamal trio so unique. Jamal's piano is airy and roomy, his phrasing—spaced well as usual—glides more than it rumbles. But the impact of each of his notes are strong still the same. Crosby's bass is steady, swinging in time to the various ghost notes that Jamal plays. And Fournier's drums shuffle along with a perched subtlety, occasionally rapping the snare with a punch and a light jab. Indeed, the Ahamad Trio doesn't as much as soar here with "Darn That Dream" as they do float.

The music alone is a treasure, but the video footage below is absolutely priceless. In addition to paying close attention to the musicians, notice the onlookers.

The music and video below is presented here for the purpose of scholarship.

Ahmad Jamal Trio - "Darn That Dream" 1959

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