Monthly Archives: May 2014

Stompin’ at the Savoy (Ahmad Jamal)

Ahmad Jamal’s trio with Israel Crosby and Vernel Fournier was one of the tightest in jazz history.  Using a system of hand signals, Jamal could cue new sections, tempos and feels without saying a word, leading to recordings that make the band sound almost telepathic.

Stompin’ at the Savoy comes from Ahmad’s Blues, recorded live in Washington, D.C.  It highlights Israel Crosby’s great melodic bass playing: Ahmad leaves so much open space, the tune is almost a bass solo.  I’ve written out the head they play and also Crosby’s bassline on two choruses of piano solo.  Click the links for full .pdf versions.


Stompin at the Savoy (Jamal arr)1

Stompin at the Savoy (Jamal arr)

Stompin at the Savoy bassline1

Stompin at the Savoy (Crosby bassline)



Here’s a 15-bar blues by a young Wynton Marsalis.  It can be heard on Keystone 3, one of my favorite Art Blakey albums, recorded live in 1982.  The set finds Blakey returning to the Keystone Korner in San Francisco just a few years after recording there with a totally different band.  Along with Wynton, this lineup features Charles Fambrough on bass, Donald Brown on piano, Bill Pierce on tenor sax and Branford Marsalis on alto.

“Waterfalls” is a great vehicle for Blakey, who loved to juxtapose 12/8 rhythms over swing.  He plays with as much fire at age 63 as he did at 23, and it’s a shame he doesn’t solo on the tune.  He does up the ante during the solos by doubling the dotted quarter to break into burning 4/4 swing.