The Jimmy Amadie Trio: Live At The Philadelphia Art Museum - This is a review and, unfortunately, a testimonial, since jazz pianist Jimmy Amadie passed away from cancer in early December 2013. In addition to celebrating the release of The Jimmy Amadie Trio: Live at The Philadelphia Art Museum, we mourn the loss of this great musician, a man who persevered in the face of terrible odds, who fought the good fight against debilitating tendonitis and pain that flowed through the very hands that interpreted jazz standards with enduring grace, beauty, and a whole lot of swing. He was beloved by many in Philadelphia and especially by the musicians who had an opportunity to play with him.
Amadie’s ninth and final album showcases the best tunes from the event on October 14, 2011—Amadie’s first live performance in 43 years. Despite an onset of painful symptoms that very evening, including vision issues that necessitated his reading flash cards for the set list, Amadie surpassed all expectations with an excellent program. Joining him on this well-recorded date were his long-time rhythm section—bassist Tony Marino and drummer Bill Goodwin, refined colleagues who brought the same level of professional elegance to the music that Amadie did.
Amadie was a relentless optimist whose performance that night sounds like a man’s half his age. Among many highlights, the trio gives “There Is No Greater Love” a delicate yet upbeat reading. There’s a slinky, exotic interpretation of “On Green Dolphin Street,” and a gangbuster version of “Softly As The Morning Sunrise” that bounces at a speedy tempo with particularly good solos from Marino and Goodwin.
Speaking on the recording that he never would have gotten this far without her, Amadie dedicates a lush and tender “My Funny Valentine” to his wife, beginning with a remarkable solo intro that slips into a penetrating groove where Amadie leads us deep into the tune, swinging every step of the way. The trio brings the same insightful flair to “All The Things You Are,” and the way the song is played spotlights all the things that made Amadie great—timing, touch and a profound sense of how to swing.
The Jimmy Amadie Trio: My Funny Valentine
He played in the tradition of the jazz pianists he revered—Hank Jones, Jimmy Rowles, Billy Taylor, guys who played tunes from the golden age of popular music and put their own jazz spin on these standards. He was a well-known jazzman in Philadelphia, thanks in part to Bob Perkins at WRTI. If you aren’t familiar with Amadie or haven’t had a chance to purchase any of his recordings, then today would be a good day to do so. Having reviewed three of his most recent recordings, locally produced by his friends and supporters, I have deep appreciation for the gift that was Amadie’s art.
I never had a chance to meet Jimmy Amadie or hear him in person. It’s one of those missed occasions, tinged with regret. Amadie joins jazz pianists Mulgrew Miller, Marian McPartland, Bebo Valdés, Cedar Walton, and George Duke who played their last notes in 2013. Their music lives on, and as time and jazz carry on, it’s a piece of good fortune that Jimmy Amadie left behind treasures on disc that await discovery for decades to come. Please visit his very fine website, jimmyamadie.com for more about this king of swing (12 tracks; 77 minutes).
This article is from the January 2014 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More Information.