"ROSSITER ROAD," the new album by Ahmad Jamal, turns out to be a road well traveled by this jazz pianist over the years, and listeners are likely to find the trip either pleasantly familiar or increasingly tiresome.
It's not that the album's eight selections cover old ground. The tunes, all but one written by Jamal, are certainly fresh enough and rhythmically enticing. It's just that Jamal, a keyboard stylist if ever there was one, has an abiding affection for certain dramatic devices that make much of his work sound the same after a while. Tunes like "Milan," "Without You" and "Yellow Fellow," for example, make frequent use of rumbling lefthand chords, cascading treble figures and abrupt changes in tempo and mood.
Perhaps taking his cue from George Winston, Jamal has also included a couple of evocative pieces with seasonal themes, namely "Autumn Rain" and "Winter Snow." Though similarly pensive at times, Jamal's approach, thankfully, is much more rhythmically aggressive than Winston's, and thus less apt to lull listeners asleep. Even so, don't expect much in the way of genuine excitement or surprises on Jamal's latest musical journey.
AHMAD JAMAL -- "Rossiter Road" (Atlantic 7 81645-1); appearing Friday and Saturday at Fort Dupont Park.