325: “Ahmad’s Blues” by Ahmad Jamal

Ahmad Jamal contemplates you reading this.Ahmad Jamal is standing in a white shirt and loose brown pants, looking into the distance. He is thinking about what might happen to him when he dies. You see, he’s decided he’s not swallowing just any old jazz someone throws him about what’s going to happen to sweet, sweet Ahmad when he kicks the bucket.

In truest fact, Ahmad is now cresting a jagged hillock, his linen clothing stirring in the tropical breeze, considering whether or not the afterlife might be a lot crazier, even, than the wildest tales of heaven or hell.

Ahmad sits down at a piano resting atop a geometrically unfathomable mountain peak on a violently verdant isle.

Maybe everyone gets their own version of an afterlife, based on their expectations and/or demeanor at point of exit.

Ahmad stretches his hands like they’re cats who just woke up.

Maybe the afterlife is a dream you never wake up from, but instead of a human brain sleeping, it’s the interrelations of the atoms and photons circulating around the earth (and beyond) that were at some point part of you, culminating in a hazy, planet-sized dreamstate.

Ahmad is exploring the keys, coloring his afterlife musings with a delicate, undulating subtext.

Maybe the afterlife is a poetry slam where you have to recite your life’s memories in clever verse. You go on to some other afterlife once you start rhyming about the afterlife poetry slam.

Ahmad Jamal is now shirtless, and his hands never left the piano.

Maybe the afterlife is not worth the consideration, if you’re not properly using the time you’ve got.

Ahmad plays “Ahmad’s Blues” with Israel Crosby on bass and Vernel Fournier on drums, on Ahmad’s Blues, released in September, 1958.

Ahmad is still going strong at 83, with upcoming performances. Here, there, and beyond.


Song: Ahmad’s Blues
Artist: Ahmad Jamal
Album: Ahmad’s Blues
Label: Verve
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: YouTube

274: “Las Vegas Tango” by Gil Evans

Awesome hair. Awesome smile.Some hypotheticals:

SOMETIMES you might feel both sophisticated and funky. Like maybe you wanna take a tomato juice bath while you’re wearing a tuxedo even though you haven’t been sprayed by a skunk.

And/or SOMETIMES you might feel like flying to Vegas and doing things that would make your loved ones vomit in their fedoras.

This song is a pleasant alternative for those times.

“Las Vegas Tango” takes you to a Vegas that exists only in the minds of its listeners. This Vegas is sophisticated and funky, and when it wears a fedora, it wears a fedora… without tightrolling its pants and without ever ordering anything resembling a “half-caff soy frap.”

This Vegas is rocking punctual brass. Things are on time, and on the house. It’s got classy broads with nice lines. Diplomatic immunity is in the air. People are smoking on the plane like they’re trying to cover the smell. And in this Vegas, fate still has six sides and twelve faces. Drink it in, listener. What goes in your earholes stays in your earholes.

Gil Evans is responsible for this vision, originally from Individualism of Gil Evans (1964). Evans was a jazz composer/pianist/Dudicus Maximus whose name is normally mentioned alongside that of Miles Davis for his role in helping birth the cool. Emphasis, mine.

Stay seated with your seatbelt fastened (if you’re not making out with the stewardess). And enjoy your trip.

Song: Las Vegas Tango
Artist: Gil Evans
Album: Verve Jazz Masters 23
Label: Verve Records
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Spotify

223: “Do What You Wanna” by Ramsey Lewis (Mr. Scruff’s Soul Party Remix)

Guy still looks good. Got no smart ass comments.Getcha some of this: Ramsey Lewis all re-worked by versatile mix-master, Mr. Scruff. If you’re alone, listen to this song right now. Just close your eyes and pretend you’re in the middle of the dance floor, and get into it. Stop reading this. Remember you have to make time to get down.

“Do What You Wanna” comes off a 2005 release, one in a series from the Verve record label, Verve/Remixed, wherein mixologists re-work Verve’s varied, decades-long catalog to mixed success.

Another standout track to put in your ear holes is the UFO remix of Sarah Vaughan’s classic rendition of “Summertime.”

(New Wilco came out today.) Enjoy.

Song: Do What You Wanna (Mr. Scruff Soul Party Remix)
Artist: Ramsey Lewis
Album: Verve/Remixed
Label: Verve
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Listen: MOG | Spotify
Watch: YouTube

22: “Mumbles” by Oscar Peterson

Oscar Peterson, Man With 14 FingersOscar Peterson is one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time (and Canadian!).  His fingers were fast as lightning.  Late in life he suffered a stroke, and he lost a lot of the mobility in his left hand, but he worked hard at rehab and continued to tour and record.  He gave it forward like a champ.

On the track “Mumbles” Oscar’s trio backs the lazy scat vocals of Clark Terry, which are both hilarious and smooth as Sunday.  It’s fun for everyone.  From 1964.



Song: Mumbles
Artist: Oscar Peterson
Album: Trio + 1
Label: Verve Records
Buy from: Amazon | iTunes
Watch: YouTube (live version)