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Herlin Riley

Last Thursday the one and only Ahmad Jamal played Davies Symphony Hall as part of SF Jazz.  Long acknowledged by Miles Davis as a major influence, he is one of the most influential musicians in the history of the music.  His sense of space and touch and dynamics are breath-taking.  And his long montunos, often at the begining and end of tunes, I believe forshadows modal jazz.  With Herlin Riley on drums, Reginald Veal on bass, and former Weather Report percussionist Manolo Badrena, the quartet achieves a telepathic level of rapport.  Invitation and Blue Moon were wonderfully re-worked, as was In Your Own Sweet Way, perhaps a nod to the Bay Area's own Dave Brubeck.  Almost all improvising musicians are adept at covering mistakes, or turning them into happy accidents.  With Ahmad there is no need - even at the age of 82, every note, every phrase, is perfect.  He walked out on stage to a standing ovation, and received several more for each encore.  The last piece, of course, being Poinciana.  Still fresh, still inspiring, still mysterious. 

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