Articles & Reviews
- "Something Special"
The Jimmy Amadie Trio
Recorded without rehearsal and essentially in one long take (no do-overs!), Something Special is a classy recording that's juiced by Philadelphia's own Jimmy Amadie, a masterful old-school pianist who swings brightly on a clutch of standards that sound renewed thanks to his skillful trio. Life hasn't been easy for Amadie - physical issues conspire against him continuously and it's a wonder that he plays with such a sunny disposition. That's the definition of a consummate professional, I suppose, because Amadie brings it home on tracks like the spirited "All The Things You Are," Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma," a rollicking Autumn Leaves" and "Fly Me To The Moon." Amadie's got ace rhythmic support in longtime bassist Tony Marino and drummer Bill Goodwin who, together, dovetail beautifully with Amadie throughout, particularly on the leader's own "Blue For Sweet Lizzy," a winner that lopes through the head then blooms in Technicolor, bouncing over a tight groove. Another original, "Happy Man's Bossa Nova" is a persuasive Brazilian number with a cheerful melody and nice changes throughout. Amadie's a remarkable pianist, one of the best, and you can tell he's filled with the joy of jazz by listening to him play. Another first-class recording for Amadie, Something Special is heartfelt music that makes you feel good. (In support of this album, Amadie will be performing at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on October 14th which will be his first public performance since 1967.)- Nick Bewsey, ICON Magazine, October 2011.
One way to gauge the enormous influence of modern post-bop pianists such as McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea is to hear an accomplished jazz keyboardist who mostly eschews thier influence. Jimmy Amadie, an obscure pianist who worked with Woody Herman and Mel Tormé in the 1950s befoer tendonitis sidelined his performing career, and who only recently began recording again after decades of writing and teaching (his students include guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel), may not be entirely untouched by contemporary jazz piano styles, but you have to dig pretty deep to uncover them. What you do hear is clear, crisp mainstream playing, delightful in its adherence to old-school principals.
So expecting au courant or innovative playing is foolish when it comes to Something Special. Listen instead for touch, taste and interpretative skill - all qualities that Amadie possesses in abundance.
The bill of fare may be standard issue: "Autumn Leaves," "All The Things You Are," "Sweet Lorraine," "My Funny Valentine," a bossa nova, a blues. Yet Amadie unpretentiously imbues each with appealing finery. His obvious love for the harmonic structures and melodic architecture of these familiar tunes is infectious. Surprises may be few, but the pleasure of experiencing one player's own pleasure can itself be fulfilling.
Actually, make that three players. Bassist Tony Merino, a longtime member of Dave Liebman's quartet, and drummer Bill Goodwin, an associate of Phil Woods since the 1970s, are firmly in Amadie's corner, providing the kind of solid support - emphatic yet nurturing - athat any veteran musician would envy.
Though health problems have plagued Amadie, he remains indefatigable. As of this writing, he's planning his forst live performance in 35 years.- Steve Futterman, Jazziz Magazine, October 2011
Truly committed musicians make music whenever they can. With a literal twist to that mantra, it means Philly-area pianist Jimmy Amadie does so about once every six months. For more than 40 years, Amadie has suffered from a severe form of tendinitis in both hands. He has made eight recordings after a 30-year-plus health-related layoff, and now has his process and physical tolerance to a point where he can literally sit at the piano about once every six months and record his one-take versions of chestnuts and originals. Amadie's trio teams him with bassist Tony Marino and drummer Bill Goodwin of Phil Woods' band.
Something Special is just that, considering Amadie's physical challenges. We know he creates music and performs it in his head in preparation for playing. It is also special for the intensity with which he plays, holding nothing back, and quality of his invention. Everything here is stunning. In particular, I love his take on my favorite Dizzy Gillespie ballad, "Con Alma." Amadie not only digs into the tune, he goes off on a personal harmonic voyage that stretches it in interesting new ways. You'll find that tendency in all of his "covers." And his originals, "Blues for Sweet Lizzy" and "Happy Mama's Bossa Nova," are also well done. There's more good news for Amadie fans. The onetime accompanist of Mel Torme, Colman Hawkins, Woody Herman, Red Rodney and others, will make his first public performance since 1967 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on October 14. With two sets no less. This is an August 16 release.- Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes
Pianist Jimmie Amadie performs many of your favorite songs on his first trio session recording titled 'Something Special'. Amadie, who is battling lung cancer, is joined by drummer Bill Goodwin and bassist Tony Marino on two of Amadie's own compositions as well as 8 revered songs from the Great American Songbook. Jimmy Amadie swings his way through "All The Things You Are," "Con Alma," and "Autumn Leaves, "with the kind of finesse and individuality reserved for pianists of his generation who are still fleet-fingered but sensitive to the song's original meaning. His playing shows no signs of his well-documented struggle with tendonitis and one listen to the beauty and romance in these interpretations will have you enamored with his resonating tones that swing in several different tempi which his trio has no problem exemplifying. The recording is definitely Something Special and should be in your music library under great piano jazz! Check it out.- www.soundsoftimelessjazz.com
- "Kindred Spirits"
The Jimmy Amadie Trio with Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano and Lew Tabackin
Judging from his seventh and most recent recording, one could say that pianist Jimmy Amadie is one of the unsung greats of jazz. He has a natural ability to find the swing in any standard and the right emotional pitch of a ballad. He puts those gifts to use on Kindred Spirits, a rollicking but attenuated set of swinging originals that pair Amadie's trio with the well-known saxophonists, Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano and Lew Tabackin.
Having found success in the 50s and 60s by playing with Woody Herman and Mel Torme, Amadie was derailed by tendonitis in his hands, which removed him from the scene until decades later. He began recording again in 1995, slowly working through his intensely painful physical condition, and made a series of outstanding recordings that peaked with his The Philadelphia Story, a collaborative effort from 2007 that teamed the pianist with Benny Golson, Randy Brecker and Tabackin.
Spirits shows Amadie in fine form. Listening to him play on "What Now" is to hear an artist in full command of his gifts as a composer and musician. His robust solos brim with charm and musicality. He has a style that's effervescent, as when he comps behind Tabackin's flute on "Blues For Thee 'DV'" with a youthful bounce. Another percolating tune, "I Want To Be Happy" with Lee Konitz, plays like a musical conversation between two old friends and rightly concludes with the saxophonist's vocal exclamation, "hot!" But the highlight is "Life Is Worth Living," a beautiful tune showcasing Joe Lovano's sumptuous tenor and a note-perfect Amadie solo that's the model of urbanity. Amadie's trio includes Bill Goodwin on drums and bassist Tony Merino (whose walking bass kills on Monk's "Well, You Needn't"). Bassist Steve Gilmore also takes a turn on two tracks. Amazingly, other recurring health concerns necessitated that Amadie record each track in one take. Now that's a lesson in perseverance and an example of consummate musicianship. Either way, Kindred Spirits is a grand accomplishment.- ICON Magazine, September 2010
No one ever promised life would be fair, but c'mon...Jimmy Amadie keeps getting knocked down after the bell has been sounded. Being an ex-boxer, and a pianist, Philadelphia-born Amadie knows full well he has the right to sing the blues. His career as a keyboardist was interrupted for thirty years by extreme tendonitis in both hands. He was nearly sixty before making his recording debut, and just before he began this one—his seventh album—he learned he had lung cancer. (If that sounds like a made-for-TV script, a documentary is in the works by the writer of the liner notes, Shaun Brady.)
Regarding the quality of the album, it's an excellent, straight-ahead swinger that not only shows how well Amadie copes with adversity, but features three saxophone greats: Joe Lovano, Lee Konitz and Lew Tabackin in a hard-driving cross-section of Amadie originals plus standards. Highlights among the reed players: Lovano's blistering tempo on on "Just Friends" over Amadie's percussive comping; the beauty of his tenor on the ironically-titled Amadie ballad, "Life is Worth Living," a gorgeous line with interesting changes and unexpected modulations; and Lovano's bop flurries on Monk's "Well You Needn't," encouraged by the provocative walking of bassist Tony Merino and the challenging "conversation" Joe holds with drummer Bill Goodwin. Tabackin's flute doubling is put to good use as he and Amadie explore Jimmy's pert, unison bop line, "Blues for Thee 'DV'." It features more first-rate playing from Merino.
Two sides of altoist Konitz are displayed with Amadie's "Lee Bossa/Lee Swing," but only one side of "his" bassist, Steve Gilmore -- the quiet side. Don't know if it's the miking, but he and Konitz are heard only twice: on the Bossa/Swing track and the way-up "I Want To Be Happy," providing a marked contrast to the assertive Merino. Little doubt that Jimmy Amadie asserts himself; he boasts a clean, crisp sound on his solos and comping, thanks to a swinging, fluid right hand and tons of taste. Just check out the contrapuntal tag to "Happy" as Amadie and Konitz seem reluctant to call it quits even when they've reached a fading infinity. Who's that yelling? I dunno.- Harvey Siders, Jazz Times
O's Notes: Those of you who don't know Jimmy Amadie are in for a treat. He is a pianist and former boxer who injured his hands so that playing, even one tune, requires months of healing. But when he can play, it is magical. Listen to him swing through the opener "Just Friends" and you'll understand. Unfortunately recording with Jimmy's health problems requires lots of time and patience but it is well worth it! The rest of the rhythm section is drummer Bill Goodwin and either Steve Gilmore or Tony Merino on Bass. All-star guest sax players Lew Tabackin, Lee Konitz and Joe Lovano join them. Jimmy shares the stage with these very capable musicians leading to some stellar moments like Lovano's solo on "Well You Needn't". After Amadie's strong performance on The Philadelphia Story we thought he'd reached his peak. We were wrong. This album is equally appreciable!- D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Magazine
- "The Philadelphia Story: The Gospel as We Know It"
The Jimmy Amadie Trio with Benny Golson, Randy Brecker and Lew Tabackin
Pianist Jimmy Amadie is one tenacious dude. A veteran of bands run by Woody Herman and Mel Torme, Amadie blew out his fingers from overuse 40 years ago, and has mostly practiced in his head for years.
Now 70, Amadie still has managed to make six recordings by just playing the notes that count. Here he joins a rhythm section of drummer Bill Goodwin and bassist Steve Gilmore with three virtuoso Philadelphians: tenor saxophonists Benny Golson and Lew Tabackin (who doubles on flute) and trumpeter Randy Brecker.
Amadie plays a standard and three originals with each guest, and the result is a sumptuous offering. The rhythm section is superb, and it amounts to a public service to capture these Philly cats.
The session has this rich, supper-club feel. It could be the late 1950s but for the digital recording and the whiffs of modernity that pass by. Amadie impresses with his compositions, including "Marching With Benny G.," a riff on Golson's famed "Blues March."
Brecker waxes lyrical on "Michael's Lament", a minor-key ditty Amadie wrote for Randy's brother Michael, who died in January of a rare leukemia-like syndrome.- K.S.
- "Let's Groove!" - A Tribute to Mel Tormé
The Jimmy Amadie Trio with Phil Woods
"Let's Groove! provides a tribute to Mel Tormé through a comfortable collection of originals and songs associated with the great jazz singer. Four veterans of the jazz world give each selection plenty of personality. Pianist Jimmy Amadie turns out yet another treasure trove of straightahead delights with a closely-knit musical partnership that has existed for many years. The program includes sensual ballads as well as hard-driving romps. Tormé loved to interpret music both ways. Here Phil Woods lends a hand, and the result is marvelous. "
"Over the years, acute tendonitis has hampered Amadie's actions at the piano. In the 1950s, he accompanied jazz legends such as Mel Tormé, Red Rodney, and Charlie Ventura. From 1960 to 1995, however, he couldn't even touch a piano. Surgery and physical therapy have helped, but the pianist still cannot play too long without stopping. Few individuals possess the kind of determination that Amadie has harbored for all these years. He thinks the music through in his head and plans his moves--then the recording sessions flow like water. More rest is required, of course, and Amadie continues with fruitful results. Let's Groove! proves this. "
"The trio alone works out "Blues for Lady Sadie" and "How Deep is the Ocean." Amadie, bassist Steve Gilmore, and drummer Bill Goodwin have been doing this together for quite some time, and they swing with a comfortable groove. Phil Woods joins the trio for the other selections, providing a fluid alto saxophone voice that continues to inspire. His concept of swing and rhythm help to pay homage to Mel Tormé, with emotions laid bare. Together, the ensemble rocks solid in its tribute. Let's Groove! comes recommended for its firm foundation and rhythmic appeal."- Jim Santella, All About Jazz
The beauty of his tone, the clarity of his thought and the contrapuntal intricacy of some of his work are deeply appealing. Moreover, the restrictions on Amadie have enabled him to express ideas with remarkable brevity and eloquence. There isn't a wasted note here."- Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
"What you hear are brilliant renderings that are, of course, well thought out, but also full of fresh energy. Amadie deserves the same careful listening one gives to Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan; he is very nearly their peer."Birmingham City News
"Amadie has great tone, articulate and intricate ideas and an economical approach that seems lightly buoyant but is obviously deep felt."- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star
"Kenny Dorham's Blue Bossa, beginning and ending with full harmony and ample space, contains a midsection in the familiar bop vein. Amadie's own Swinging Prez invites a comparison to Lester Young, for both employed a lighter style with the integral swing element, and both had the imagination to create beautiful music."- Jim Santella, L.A. Jazz Scene
"The pieces have a clarity of vision, a sense of forethought, with each well-considered phrase moving to another. Yet the result is not stagy or lacking in spontaneity. The structures are clear, with almost narrative-like quality, often moving, as on the opener, from out-of-tempo meditations to in-time, driving action with a bit of reflection tagged too the end. They have the feel of inventiveness being honed to the essentials."- David Dupont, Cadence
"Amadie is that rare pianist who can't waste a note. He practices in his head and it has to come out in one take...there's great spirit at work here, a will to play that makes every tune an adventure. Amadie has imagined playing these tunes for years - his compositions are especially impressive - and there's high drama in hearing them."- Karl Stark, The Music Report
"Amadie has a special talent for solo playing, having probably spent more time crafting it than many occasional soloists. His work is beautifully free of the decorative (and decadent) filigree that mars so much of mainstream modern piano music"- Stuart Broomer, Coda Magazine
"...a strong, swinging expression of a serious keyboard talent."
"His technique is immaculate, his feeling for the music heartfelt and appealing--and Amadie uses both hands well, complementing his nimble and expressive right with forceful percussive statements from his left."
- Jack Bowers, Cadence
"He plays beautifully. He has an astonishingly deft touch, a keen sense of harmony and melody."
- Don Freeman, New Music Report
"Jimmy's playing is highly energetic, sensitive and inventive."
- Billy Taylor
"Amadie takes on standards with warmth, grace and sophistication - and intensity. By any standard - amazing."
- Chuck Berg, JazzTimes
"...his technique is still intact---marvelously felt right hand lines dart against droll bass notes and broken chords, but there's a pulse and sense of reflection that's affecting. Amadie's a purist and a survivor."
"It is simply a beautiful treasure chest of outstanding performances. And it's truly untenable to single out any tunes, they sparkle like gems."
- Jazz Educators Journal