The sultry sounds of Ahmad Jamal this weekend. Recorded live for NPR’s Jazz Alive! Series at Tralfamadore in Buffalo New York on November 16, 1984.
If you are new to the music of Ahmad Jamal, take a minute to dive into this bio, from Jamal’s website – instructive, straight-forward and tells you all you need to know to get the discovery ball rolling:
Ahmad Jamal was born on July 2nd., 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the home of, many artists known the world over for their work and contributions to both European Classical Music and American Classical Music (what Mr. Jamal prefers Jazz to be called).
He began playing the piano at age 3, the same age Erroll Garner started. They both attended the same elementary and high schools. Mr. Jamal started his formal studies with Mary Cardwell Dawson, noted educator, and the person responsible for placing the first African Americans in The Metropolitan Opera Company. When Madame Dawson moved to Washington, DC., he continued his studies with James Miller, a contemporary of Earl Wild, both Pittsburgh natives.
Mr. Jamal was composing and orchestrating at 10 years of age, and performing works by Franz Liszt and exploring the music of Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Nat Cole, Erroll Garner, and a host of others, learning the repertoire that comprises the American Song Book. He became so proficient at amassing a huge repertoire that he was employed by Pittsburgh masters three and four times his age and joined the AFof M (American Federation of Musicians) at 14, the minimum age requirement at that time was 16.
He left home at the request of the George Hudson Orchestra at the age of 17, and began touring the country. The George Hudson Orchestra included Clark Terry and orchestrator Ernie Wilkins. The touring schedule included major theaters throughout the United States. Notably, the historic Apollo Theater in NYC, and The Howard Theater in Washington, DC. Mr. Jamal arrived at The Apollo with the orchestra at 18 years of age.
He formed his own group in 1951 and with the help of John Hammond started his recording career with Okeh Records. That career has continued for over six decades and has resulted in one of the most successful recordings in the history of Instrumental music. “The Ahmad Jamal Trio, at The Pershing”. Used by Clint Eastwood in “The Bridges Of Madison County” and featured prominently in “The Wolf Of Wall Street”. It is also used in dance companies all over the world, and continues to make musical history.
His many, many awards can be found on his web page, and includes The NEA Masters Award, French Government Awards, Malaysian Awards, Doctor of Music, Honoris Causa, New England Conservatory Of Music, which reads:” Ahmad Jamal, Jazz pianist, one of foremost leaders of small ensembles. An innovative great, who drew from and influenced idioms from the big band era to bebop to cool jazz to electronic styles. An American Jazz Master who inspired such important figures as Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, and Herbie Hancock. Renowned for his exquisite touch, profound grace, and mercurial improvisational choices. For seven decades he’s been sharing his inimitable and unique voice with jazz lovers the world over.”
His career spans many eras of The Art Form, big band, the Parker / Gillespie era, the electronic age, etc. and is one of the most sampled composers and recording artists in the world. He is still recording and producing young artists, and has just released “Jamal Plays Jamal” on his own label, available from his web site,www.ahmadjamal.com.
Ahmad Jamal has been a Steinway Artist for over a half century.
“American Classical Music” – amen to that. It IS and always has been.
Jump in; head first.