Influential jazz piano icon Ahmad Jamal continues showing off his impeccable technique and exploring fresh facets of his inimitable style on his latest recording, It's Magic (Dreyfus). But most of all he seems to be having lots of fun, showing off profound joy and impish humor in his abrupt shifts in rhythm and dynamics, and eruptions from spacious melodies into furious flourishes of notes—both Jamal trademarks. Odd bits of "Eleanor Rigby," "Old Man River," and less identifiable quotes stray into his pieces, which include jaunty covers of the Sesame Street ditty "Sing" and the Sammy Kahn/Jules Styne title track, and a more contemplative run through the standard "The Way You Look Tonight." With percussionist Manolo Badrena joining longstanding Jamal collaborators James Cammack (bass) and Idris Muhammad (drums), Jamal's "Back to the Island" sizzles on an array of Caribbean rhythms boiling atop Muhammad's New Orleans shuffle. Badrena also gives added dimension to Jamal's lushly melodic "Swahililand" and a dynamic new composition, "Fitnah." Cammack and Badrena will join Jamal at the Dakota, along with drummer James Johnson III. $40 at 7 p.m.; $25 at 9:30 p.m.
Mondays-Wednesdays. Starts: Nov. 24. Continues through Nov. 26, 2008