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People Are Talking: UMS presents Ahmad Jamal at Hill Auditorium

Posted: 9/17/11 -- 12:00 am

39

avatar by Mark Jacobson

Stage at Hill Auditorium on Saturday.

Tell us what you thought!   This is the place to comment on the performance and talk to other people about what you saw and heard.  Don’t forget to click the option to be notified when new comments are posted.

BONUS: We’re giving away NEA Jazz Masters companion books to discussion participants. An audio CD of NEA-produced Jazz Moments, radio shorts of interviews with NEA Jazz Masters is included!

This performance was funded in part by NEA Jazz Masters Live, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest that celebrates the living legends who have made exceptional contributions to the advancement of jazz. Through the grant program, UMS was able to commission Ellen Rowe, a jazz pianist and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the UM School of Music, Theatre & Dance, to write a new suite arranging three of Jamal’s works for big band orchestra. This new arrangement will introduce Jamal’s music into the high school and college/university big band repertoire, thus greatly widening the scope of potential audiences for his music and strengthening his legacy.

Chime into the conversation below to receive a copy. First thirty commenters are  eligible.

Setlist:

An Evening with Ahmad Jamal
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Hill Auditorium

1. Appreciation by Johnny Pate

2. The Aftermath by Ahmad Jamal

3. After JALC by Ahmad Jamal

4. Papillon by Ahmad Jamal

5. (Medley) Wild Is The Wind by Ned Washington & Dimitri Tiomkine / Sing by Joe Raposo

6. The Awakening by Ahmad Jamal

7. Bellows by Ahmad Jamal

8. Poinciana by Buddy Bernier & Nat Simon

9. Like Someone in Love by Jimmy Van Heusen

Encore:
Fitnah by Ahmad Jamal

Mark Jacobson has been a staff member of the UMS Programming Department since 1998.

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  • avatar

    Herlin Riley was brilliant tonight! It was a beautiful performance.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Fabulous!
    The interactions between the band and Mr Jamal were incredible.
    Felt fresh and original but at the same time like they had played it hundreds of times together. They were having fun and it was infectious

    Reply
  • avatar

    As much fun to watch as it was to listen to. An incredible performance by one of the greats, and the rest of the band made it a night to remember.

    Reply
  • avatar

    What a great concert…the perfect performance to kick-off the UMS season. So what was the percussionist whispering into the microphone?

    Reply
    • Hi, Marci…Mark Jacobson here from the UMS Programming department. I believe that percussionist Manolo Badrena (who first played at Hill Auditorium on his very first gig with Weather Report in 1976!) was intoning vocalizations from indigenous tribes of S. America, more than likely of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. Manolo, who was born in Puerto Rico, was impressively “filling in” some of the “empty spaces” between the melodic lines and harmony that Ahmad was creating on the piano as his whispered intonations were very much pitch-based!
      So glad you were able to attend this season-opening event!

      Reply
      • avatar

        and what an amazing job Manolo did filling in those spaces that guy was so awesome! I love to hear musicians with that amazing ability to fill in and be right in tune with the melody. What an incredible group that I had the privilege to hear and see.

        Reply
  • avatar

    Having only listened to his album, Pittsburgh, I loved hearing a different side of Jamal. He and the quartet played with the music tonight with beautiful flow while at the same time giving it spontaneity.

    Reply
  • avatar

    OK I’Ll chuck one at you from the new IPad…Mr. Jamal and his band seem to be from the old school of less is more. I’m conditioned to drummers like Brian Blade and Herlin Riley who whoosh past you like a locomotive…a lot of thought went into tonight’ compositions. I’m glad I got to see this Jazz legend. He won’t play outdoors so I guess the Detroit Jazz Festival won’t be having him. Ahmad Jamal, like a corner piece in the jazz puzzle!

    Reply
  • avatar

    Great to see a legend still in prime form, I loved the pointing that was going on and when the drummer lost his stick and Jamal gave it back to him. What a way to kick off the 2011/12 season! Thank you UMS:)

    Reply
  • avatar

    spectacular .. especially the drummer. I and my twin 17 year olds loved the show. Could not believe that guy is in his 80s.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Ahmad Jamal was WONDERFUL!!! He and his band are each masters of the art of jazz. I went with my two sons and they enjoyed the music as much as I. This night gave me memories that will last for a lomg time.

    Reply
  • Just awesome. This was me third Ahmad Jamal concert and he keeps getting better and better! True Jazz Masters! Just love every time I hear “Poinciana” live.

    Reply
  • avatar

    This was a concert to savor and seemed to end too soon. I enjoyed the interactions of the musicians and wondered what was the inside joke that made the drummer burst out laughing in the middle of a piece. The performance seemed both polished and fresh, enjoyed by the musicians, as well as the audience.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Wonderful! The drummer certainly makes all the sounds come alive. The four musicians drifted between loud and very soft music easily. Percussion variety was great. Ahmad was terrific on the piano. I hope I am as great as he is when I am 81!

    Reply
  • avatar

    It’s been a while since I enjoyed a concert as much. Other jazz musicians I’ve listened to like to interact more with the public and put up more of a show, but Mr. Jamal’s show is all in his music.

    His tunes sound so classic and so fresh at the same time. They sound like they’re coming from all over the world – New Orleans, Latin America, Africa.

    Thank you for a wonderful night!

    Reply
  • avatar

    Had a great time. Ahmad Jamal is a phenomenal jazz pianist, and the auxillary percussion was a nice touch.

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  • avatar

    A magnificent concert! Ahmad is a genius with years of accumulated musical wisdom, and every bit of it was on display tonight. His bandmates are all highly accomplished musicians and their interaction was superlative. Everyone was listening and playing with precision and abandon–a rare accomplishment. The arrangements were very creative, the transitions crisp, and the dynamics those of master musicians. They easily went from very loud to very soft and vice versa while simultaneously changing grooves or moods. The compositions were highly polished and yet felt spontaneous, and there was a constant change of texture and space, but no extraneous notes. Ahmad plays only what needs to be played–doesn’t play anything that doesn’t contribute, and he has a beautiful touch on the keys. Very inspiring!

    Reply
    • This was the first time we had seen Ahmad Jamal, and I was impressed in the same way: precise, bright, exact while also smooth, polished, flowing. Spontaneous, but also feeling like the band had played this together for years.

      Reply
  • avatar

    What a wonderful performance. I’ve been following Jamal for 45 years and he is getting better and better. Herlin Riley was terrific.

    Reply
    • Hi, Joan…Mark Jacobson, again, from the UMS Programming department.

      I wish I had the opportunity to follow Mr. Jamal for so many years! I would agree that both his pianism and skills as one of the remarkable band leaders in the history of this American art form has only improved with age.

      Thanks for attending!

      Reply
  • avatar

    Listening and watching the quartet was phenomenal. I particularly enjoyed watching how Jamal would signal to each of the other musicians. Their performance of Poinciana was brilliant, how they played around with timing and shifting melodic lines. Fabulous!

    Reply
  • avatar

    It was nice to see Ahmad back in Ann Arbor. The old energy is certainly still there and his side men were exceptional. A joy!

    Reply
  • avatar

    I’ve been a fan of Jamal since 1960. Wonderful jaz concert.

    Reply
  • avatar

    The man proved he could still swing at a ripe 81 years young.

    However, as deep as my love for Hill Auditorium remains, I have a difficult time listening to a jazz quartet in that space. I think the intimacy and intensity of a performance like last night’s has a tough time translating to such an expansive (and majestic!) room. I would love to see UMS present jazz in smaller spaces.

    In any case, great music, good show! Thanks, Mark+Co.!

    Reply
    • Hey Bennett…glad to know you were there !? Are you back in town?…or were you just hear for the weekend? Yes, of course, the concert would have been hot in a small room or a club on Rush Street, but I actually was sitting way in the back of Hill…the wheelchair section, actually….and found myself thinking just how present and immediate the performance was all the way to the back of the main floor. I was really into it. Glad you were there.

      Reply
  • avatar

    ahmad Jamal was a surprise and a puzzle. His amazing virtuosity was awesome, and the quartet was masterful, creating ever-changing environments of sound and rhythm.

    but I found myself frequently baffled. Although the quartet clearly knew where a piece was in its progress, I found it nearly impossible to define where they were in the piece. With no tune definable to my ear, almost no repetition to allow defining whether we were in the A section or B section or wherever, I found my ear and mind adrift, adrift in a beautiful kaleidoscopic haze, watching the images move by likemagically changing sets sailing by on the shore.
    Wonderful, but puzzling. Guess I need training in modern jazz structure.

    Reply
    • Hi, Rob…Mark Jacobson writing here from UMS Programming. I’m so glad that you were able to fully allow yourself to get transported by the music, despite the feeling that you might need a compass to navigate through the set’s compositions. One aspect of Ahmad’s brilliance has always been his unique perspective of a tune’s written melody and a deconstruction of its structure. This was certainly on display Saturday night.
      I’m pleased to report that we were able to acquire and post Saturday night’s complete setlist (along with composers) to the top of this “People Are Talking” thread early Tuesday morning. It might be interesting to further explore some of Ahmad’s recordings of these tunes and compare/contrast them to Saturday evening’s performance. Thanks for attending and I hope to see you at the next UMS Jazz Series concert in November!

      Reply
  • It was a great performance. Ahmad Jamal was so lively up there. Very charismatic. And I got to meet him afterwards. What a nice fella!!

    Reply
    • avatar

      Hey I was the “other Kelly” :) out there that night waiting to meet the band! They were incredibly gracious and talked to us as if they had no place else to go. Awesome musicians and awesome people. So glad my husband and I got the chance to hear them and meeting them was the icing on the cake!! A dream my husband has had for 20 years!!

      Reply
  • avatar

    Great performance! I watch a legend.Could have heard more.

    Reply
  • avatar

    Sometimes I found all the percussion instruments a little distracting. It seems as if he couldn’t decide what to use next. Over all, it was a wonderful concert, and I wanted more

    Reply
  • avatar

    It was a pleasure and a treasure to hear the band on Saturday but, with a performance lasting only an hour and ten minutes I hardly thought it was “An evening with Ahmad Jamal”

    Reply
  • avatar

    Where can I find a list of songs that they played that night?

    Reply
  • avatar

    I thoroughly enjoyed this concert. I liked the format of the quartet: piano, bass, drums, and cool percussion with no horns. I liked the intermix of jazz and Latin rhythms. I agree that Hill is not an intimate setting but the acoustics are so perfect that I had no trouble hearing every note and even the whispers from Manolo Badrena. I could listen to James Cammack all night; and I thought he was perfectly miked.

    Louise Townley

    Reply
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