Ahmad Jamal

Piano maestro Ahmad Jamal returns to the Dakota with another great new album in tow—A Quiet Time (Dreyfus)—and a seemingly endless reservoir of inspiration flowing from his agile fingers. At 79, riding a six-decade career, Jamal sounds fresh and more vital than ever, continuing to push his renowned improvisations into improbably rich, restless terrain that's packed with unexpected twists and textures. So despite some lovely reflective passages, the title track is anything but somnolent, shifting dynamics and moods so often with a series of mini eruptions—including a brief Brazilian interlude sparked by Manolo Badrena's cuica—that you'd need a scorecard to keep track. Yet the piece hangs together beautifully. As do the eight other originals, ranging from the appropriately florid "The Blooming Flower" (with hints of the Jamal classic "Poinciana") to the dynamic, Latin-tinged swing of "Paris After Dark." There's also a bristling version of Randy Weston's classic "Hi Fly," punctuated by a funky jounce from drummer Kenny Washington that recalls longtime Jamal associate Idris Muhammad, and a single ballad to wrap things up: the standard "I Hear a Rhapsody." (Photo by Jean Marc Lubrano)
Mondays, Tuesdays, Sundays, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Starts: Feb. 21. Continues through Feb. 23, 2010

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