28 Facts About Ahmad Jamal


Ahmad Jamal began playing piano at the age of three, when his uncle Lawrence challenged him to duplicate what he was doing on the piano.

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Ahmad Jamal began formal piano training at the age of seven with Mary Cardwell Dawson, whom he describes as greatly influencing him.

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Ahmad Jamal studied with pianist James Miller and began playing piano professionally at the age of fourteen, at which point he was recognized as a "coming great" by the pianist Art Tatum.

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Ahmad Jamal began touring with George Hudson's Orchestra after graduating from George Westinghouse High School in 1948.

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Ahmad Jamal joined another touring group known as The Four Strings, which disbanded when violinist Joe Kennedy Jr.

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Ahmad Jamal converted to Islam and changed his name to Ahmad Jamal in 1950.

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Ahmad Jamal says them in Arabic in keeping with the Muslim tradition.

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Ahmad Jamal made his first records in 1951 for the Okeh label with The Three Strings : the other members were guitarist Ray Crawford and a bassist, at different times Eddie Calhoun, Richard Davis, and Israel Crosby .

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Ahmad Jamal subsequently recorded for Parrot and Epic using the piano-guitar-bass lineup.

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Ahmad Jamal's recording of the well known song "Poinciana" was first released on this album.

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Ahmad Jamal played the set with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier.

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Jazz musicians and listeners alike found inspiration in the At the Pershing recording, and Ahmad Jamal's trio was recognized as an integral new building block in the history of jazz.

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Ahmad Jamal, who was twenty-nine at the time, said he had a curiosity about the homeland of his ancestors, highly influenced by his conversion to the Muslim faith.

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In 1962, The Three Strings disbanded and Ahmad Jamal moved to New York City, where, at the age of 32, he took a three-year hiatus from his musical career.

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In 1964, Ahmad Jamal resumed touring and recording, this time with the bassist Jamil Nasser and recorded a new album, Extensions, in 1965.

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Ahmad Jamal joined forces with Fournier and drummer Frank Gant, among others.

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Ahmad Jamal continued to play throughout the 1970s and 1980s, mostly in trios with piano, bass and drums, but he occasionally expanded the group to include guitar.

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In 1986, Ahmad Jamal sued critic Leonard Feather for using his former name in a publication.

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Ahmad Jamal is the main mentor of jazz piano virtuosa Hiromi Uehara, known as Hiromi.

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Ahmad Jamal emphasized space and time in his musical compositions and interpretations instead of focusing on the blinding speed of bebop.

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Stanley Crouch, author of Considering Genius, offers a very different reaction to Ahmad Jamal's music, claiming that, like the highly influential Thelonious Monk, Ahmad Jamal was a true innovator of the jazz tradition and is second in importance in the development of jazz after 1945 only to Parker.

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Ahmad Jamal says his style evolved from drawing on the techniques and music produced in these three eras.

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In 1985, Ahmad Jamal agreed to do an interview and recording session with his fellow jazz pianist, Marian McPartland on her NPR show Piano Jazz.

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Ahmad Jamal, who said he rarely plays "But Not For Me" due to its popularity since his 1958 recording, played an improvised version of the tune – though only after noting that he has moved on to making ninety percent of his repertoire his own compositions.

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Ahmad Jamal said that when he grew in popularity from the Live at the Pershing album, he was severely criticized afterwards for not playing any of his own compositions.

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In more recent years, Ahmad Jamal has embraced the electronic influences affecting the genre of jazz.

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Ahmad Jamal has occasionally expanded his usual small ensemble of three to include a tenor saxophone and a violin.

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Ahmad Jamal'd come back and throw things out at you, directly from what you played.

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