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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Jazz > Ahmal Jamal - Live At Baalbeck 2003

Ahmal Jamal Ė Live In Baalbeck

With Idris Muhammad & James Cammack


Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C+†††† Concert: B



We have had many Jazz DVDs from all eras of the genre issued, but few have been as laid back and effective as the long-playing Ahmal Jamal Ė Live In Baalbeck With Idris Muhammad & James Cammack.Jamal is a Jazz pianist who grew up in Pittsburgh and survived early going to school and being in a union when there was still a thriving industrial center built around the likes of steel that kept many of the top corporations in the country headquartered in the town.Soon, he went into his love and became one of its premiere artists.


This fine 101 minutes long concert includes the following performances, from the Baalbeck Festival from July 18th and 19th 2003:


1)     Young & Foolish

2)     Where Are You

3)     The Devilís In My Den

4)     Iíll Always Be With You

5)     Island Fever

6)     You Can See

7)     Topsy Turvy

8)     The Aftermath

9)     Poinciana

10) Acorn

11) Spring Is Here

12) In Search Of



The idea of doing Jazz this laid back is more typical of those Kool Jazz Festivals of the past, where the music might be lighter, but it is more refined and technical than something like fusion or the harder bass-oriented jazz programs.This is not to say the sound is lacking or there is not any bass, but to say that this is the more relaxing, thoughtful Jazz we do not hear enough.The trio has some great chemistry together, are all veterans and to have this kind of skill with three men who are at the top of their game, love what they do and meld together as seamlessly as they do is a great experience to behold.Spring Is Here, for instance, feels as much of a tribute to Rogers & Hart as it does a subtle updating that shows how enduring their work is.


The full screen image is nice and clean for a recent professional analog NTSC shoot, but boy do these guys deserve a big digital High Definition production.However, as we have learned, Jazz does not always get the respect it deserves until it is too late, so those kinds of luxuries do not always come to them as soon as they deserve.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not bad, but lacks any Pro Logic surrounds and is definitely not capturing all the details that these guys are producing musically.Maybe that calls for an SACD version of this concert, a double set with the tracks here.Extras include a 6:16 segment about their trip to the show, a long, smart interview with Jamal that shows his great wisdom and solid connection with reality that keeps his music honest and great, a discography with limited details, and 2:50 worth of additional comments by Cammack that makes one wish he said more.Despite some technical limits, Ahmal Jamal Ė Live In Baalbeck With Idris Muhammad & James Cammack is one of the best Jazz DVDs issued to date and is highly recommended.Letís hope we see another.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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