Infinity is an outstanding modal and spiritual jazz album by American vibraphone and marimba player Khan Jamal. Originally released in 1984 on his own Jambrio label, the album was long considered a holy grail amongst rare jazz collectors and had become impossibly hard to find. It is a joy to finally see this reissued by Jazz Room Records, the exciting new label run by legendary DJ and producer Paul Murphy.
The hypnotic, Coltrane-inspired ‘The Known Unknown’, on which Jamal and pianist Bernard Sammul interact majestically up and down their keyboards, is a jazz dance monster which was huge on the acid jazz scene of the 1990s (of which Murphy was one the key DJs) and had been featured on a few comps before. The whole album however remained largely undiscovered, and it’s a gem!
The Afro Latin sound of ‘Nubian Queen’ features a sextet with Khan overdubbed on vibes and marimba, and both Byard Lancaster and Samuels shining on flute and piano.
On ‘Infinity’ the legendary free drummer/percussionist Sunny Murray sits in for Dwight James, while Clifton Burton’s amplified harmonica joins Byard Lancaster, here on saxophone. Backed by the driving percussion and congas of Omar Hill, this track is an immense piece of spiritual Afro jazz. Seriously heavy!
The album closes with ‘The Angry Young Man’, a fierce post-bop composition by Sammul which takes no prisoners. The sound quality throughout this reissue is well detailed and dynamic, giving justice to such an exceptional album whose new exposure should help reposition Jamal on the same level as fellow vibes player Bobby Hutcherson. Full points all the way.