Fireside Chat

Ahmad Jamal

60 minsRecorded 15 May 2016Next Fireside Chat Today at 9:00pm EST

Meet the legendary jazz pianist and composer who inspired the great Miles Davis and many of his contemporaries.

Renowned jazz pianist and composer Ahmad Jamal is known for his instantly recognizable blend of cool melodies and hard swing. Moving from his hometown of Pittsburgh to Chicago in the 1950s, Ahmad Jamal first came to the attention of jazz lovers with his live album At The Pershing: But Not For Me, containing what would become one of his trademark standards, “Poinciana.” With his own unique compositions Ahmad Jamal has inspired and influenced many of his contemporaries, including Cannonball Adderley and the great Miles Davis who proclaimed him a major influence. His innovative, minimalist and understated approach allows him to make the most of small-group settings by arranging them in orchestral terms, creating contrast and dramatic effect, and by allowing the rhythm section plenty of space to bust out: a fine example being “Swahililand” from his 1974 album Jamal Plays Jamal, famously sampled by Jay Dilla for De La Soul’s classic Stakes Is High. With his masterful manipulation of space and silence, tension and release, Ahmad Jamal continues to influence and create his own brand of American classical music at the highest level to this very day.

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