Julian Shore, Where We Started

Beginning with a lulling quasi-classical feel and a title in 'Preludio' to match, pianist Julian Shore finds himself in reflective mood on Where We Started. The title draws on a line of poetry by T. S. Eliot and with Shore his collaborators on the …

Published: 3 Jul 2020. Updated: 17 months.

Beginning with a lulling quasi-classical feel and a title in 'Preludio' to match, pianist Julian Shore finds himself in reflective mood on Where We Started.

The title draws on a line of poetry by T. S. Eliot and with Shore his collaborators on the record are a fine collection of leading players: Dayna Stephens, Caroline Davis, Ben Monder, Edward Perez, Colin Stranahan and fleetingly, actually on the title track itself, Oded Tzur.

That classical sense gives way a little as the album progesses and moves towards that new territory we hear so much on contemporary jazz records, a sense of composition that keeps its options open and avoids being overly constrained by any one tradition. One thing it's not is a blood and guts full throttle dash in some sort of competitive duel.

Shore possesses something of a Romantic touch to his flowing improvisations and I would say that this is an introvert's record rather than an extrovert's.

In terms of the process of his gaining wider recognition Where We Started certainly accelerates that direction. It's an excellent record. Highlights include the mystical charm of the band's interpretation of the Gesualdo madrigal 'O Vos Omnes' and the absorbing interpretation of Gil Evans’ arrangement of Gershwin’s 'Oh Bess, Oh Where’s My Bess' are certainly high among them and Monder's role is important as is the way the album pivots between piano, saxophone and guitar for its essential centre of gravity. As a whole it works as a kind of meditation and conveys its own faraway atmosphere highly effectively.

Out now on Tongue Rogue Records.

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Ahmad Jamal turns 90

Still a big influence on jazz pianists the world over Ahmad Jamal, who celebrates his 90th birthday today, is still a force to be reckoned with as last year's Ballades showed in abundance. Jamal has been a recording artist since 1951 and on Ballades …

Published: 2 Jul 2020. Updated: 17 months.

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Still a big influence on jazz pianists the world over Ahmad Jamal, who celebrates his 90th birthday today, is still a force to be reckoned with as last year's Ballades showed in abundance. Jamal has been a recording artist since 1951 and on Ballades duetted in part with bassist James Cammack on a third of the album although Ballades was more than a lap of honour, and folded in some astounding treatments of standards including a greatest “hit” and is one to cherish. Go straight to ‘Emily’ and of course linger over ‘Poinciana’ that featured on the classic album At the Pershing: But Not for Me. Listen also to the reflective, gently inuring, ‘Whisperings’ one of the three original compositions on the album, a song first recorded by O. C. Smith of ‘Little Green Apples’ fame that Jamal has recorded before.