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A Fireside Chat With Ahmad Jamal

By Published: April 18, 2003

AJ: That couldn't be further away from the truth, Fred. This whole business of this multi-billion dollar record business that is doing everything with areas that don't have anything do to with the music established by Nat King Coles, Louis Armstrongs, and Ella Fitzgeralds. This is the art form that established the record business, period. It will be going on and on and on as long as there is a world as far as I am concerned. They will be singing 'Sophisticated Lady' long after these other fads are gone.

FJ: Let's touch on your new release, In Search Of Momentum.

AJ: In Search Of was my title and the subtitle (Momentum) was put in by my producer over in France, Jean-Francois Deiber. It sounded OK and so I went along with it. The title is apropos for the composition. I always write first and the composition dictates itself to me. I write the music and to me, the music dictates the title. The dynamics are important. The research is important. The melodic line of the song is important. Everything is important with music. It is always a challenge. Music is a constant challenge. You are not ever finished. People ask me what my favorite record is and I say that it is the next one. That is about the size of it. I am always looking forward to the next go around because I always am learning something during the process of recording and when it comes out, I am faced with more challenges, happily so. I had several ideas and the main idea was to record a wealth of tracks, which I find is very necessary. It is much better to have more than not enough, Fred, as was the case with my model release, At the Pershing, which is really a historic piece of recording or historic musical document. I had forty-three tracks when I went into the studio. I only used eight. I always had the concept of recording a wealth of tracks because you have got to have choices. When you don't have enough choices, you run into trouble and so I always had a concept of recording enough so I can have some good selections.

FJ: When will you be returning to the West Coast?

AJ: I am going to Europe for five weeks in conjunction with the release of this latest recording venture. I don't know when I will be coming to the coast. The last time I was out there, I worked Cerritos Center. I don't know when I am do out there again. I love coming out there, but there is not a wealth of places for me to work now because I have backed off of nightclubs, Fred. I am only doing, for the most part, theaters and concert halls. It is time. I've been doing the nightclub circuit for years and years and years. Right now, I don't want to spend a whole week in clubs. I only do two clubs and that is the Regatta Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Iridium in New York, which are vacations for me. Sometimes I like going back to New York City because there is still a lot of energy there. Those are the two places I am doing nightclubs. Now, that may change, but right now, I am not doing any nightclubs with the exception of those two. In Europe, I don't ever do clubs. I do nothing but theaters in Europe.

FJ: In the times we are living in currently, shouldn't we place that much more importance on the music?

AJ: Of course, the motion of the industry was established in very turbulent times and when turbulence goes on in the world, that is when music soothes the savage beast, Fred.

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