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Musician

Ahmad Jamal

Born:

In 1951, Mr. Jamal first recorded 'Ahmad's Blues' on Okeh Records. His arrangement of the folk tune 'Billy Boy', and 'Poinciana' (not his original composition), also stem from this period. In 1955, he recorded his first Argo (Chess) Records album that included 'New Rhumba', 'Excerpts From The Blues', 'Medley' (actually 'I Don't Want To Be Kissed'), and 'It Ain't Necessarily So' —all later utilized by Miles Davis and Gil Evans on the albums "Miles Ahead" and "Porgy and Bess." In his autobiography, Mr. Davis praises Mr. Jamal's special artistic qualities and cites his influence. In fact, the mid-to-late 1950's Miles Davis Quintet recordings notably feature material previously recorded by Mr. Jamal: 'Squeeze Me', 'It Could Happen To You', 'But Not For Me', 'Surrey With The Fringe On Top', 'Ahmad's Blues', 'On Green Dolphin Street' and 'Billy Boy'. In 1956, Mr. Jamal, who had already been joined by bassist Israel Crosby in 1955, replaced guitarist Ray Crawford with a drummer. Working as the "house trio" at Chicago's Pershing Hotel drummer Vernell Fournier joined this trio in 1958 and Mr. Jamal made a live album for Argo Records entitled "But Not For Me". The resulting hit single and album, that also included 'Poinciana' — his rendition could be considered his "signature". This album remained on the Ten Best-selling charts for 108 weeks — unprecedented then for a jazz album. This financial success enabled Mr. Jamal to realize a dream, and he opened a restaurant/club, The Alhambra, in Chicago. Here the Trio was able to perform while limiting their touring schedule and Mr. Jamal was able to do record production and community work. Mr. Jamal was born on July 2, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A child prodigy who began to play the piano at the age of 3, he began formal studies at age 7. While in high school, he completed the equivalent of college master classes under the noted African-American concert singer and teacher Mary Caldwell Dawson and pianist James Miller. He joined the musicians union at the age of 14, and he began touring upon graduation from Westinghouse High School at the age of 17, drawing critical acclaim for his solos. In 1950, he formed his first trio, The Three Strings. Performing at New York's The Embers club, Record Producer John Hammond "discovered" The Three Strings and signed them to Okeh Records (a division of Columbia, now Sony Records). Mr. Jamal has continued to record his outstanding original arrangements of such standards as 'I Love You', 'A Time For Love', 'On Green Dolphin Street' (well before Miles Davis!), 'End of a Love Affair', to cite a few. Mr. Jamal's own classic compositions begin with 'Ahmad's Blues' (first recorded on October 25, 1951!), 'New Rhumba', 'Manhattan Reflections', 'Tranquility', 'Extensions', 'The Awakening', 'Night Mist Blues' and most recently 'If I Find You Again', among many others.. In 1994, Mr. Jamal received the American Jazz Masters award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The same year he was named a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University, where he performed commissioned works with the Assai String Quartet. A CD is available of these works. In 1970, Mr. Jamal performed the title tune by Johnny Mandel for the soundtrack of the film "Mash!"; and in 1995, two tracks from his hit album "But Not For Me" — 'Music, Music, Music', and 'Poinciana' — were featured in the Clint Eastwood film "The Bridges of Madison County". Mr. Jamal's CD entitled "The Essence" features tenor saxophonist George Coleman — Mr. Jamal's first recording made with a horn! Critical acclaim and outstanding sales resulted in two prestigious awards: D'jango D'or (critics) and Cloch (for sales) in France. Its success generated a concert at Salle Pleyel, and a CD has been released "Ahmad Jamal a Paris" (1992) and a second "live" concert by Mr. Jamal in l996 under the same title, unissued except in France and available on the Dreyfus Records on the Internet, Mr. Jamal rightly considers one of his best recordings. Ahmad Jamal's 70th Birthday "live" concert recording Olympia 2000, is known as "The Essence Part III". "The Essence, Part II", featured Donald Byrd on the title track, and on his CD entitled "Nature", Stanley Turrentine is featured on 'The Devil's In My Den', and steel drummer Othello Molineaux augments the trio format. Continuing his recording career, Mr. Jamal released "In Search of" on CD, and his first DVD "Live In Baalbeck". For students of the piano, Hal Leonard Publications has published "The Ahmad Jamal Collection", a collection of piano transcriptions. Mr. Jamal continues to record exclusively for the French Birdology label, and his albums are released on Verve and Atlantic in the United States. Mr. Jamal is an exclusive Steinway piano artist.

Mr. Jamal's 'About My Life' story in his own words:

At three years of age, my wonderful Uncle Lawrence stopped me while I was walking past the piano in my parents' living room. He was playing the piano and challenged me to duplicate what he was doing. Although I had never touched this or any piano, I sat down and played note for note what I had heard. "The rest is history." What a thrilling ride it has been and continues to be. I was born in one of the most remarkable places in the world for musicians and people in the arts - Pittsburgh, PA. At seven years, I was selling newspapers to Billy Strayhorn's family. Billy had already left home; I didn't get to meet him until years later. Following is a partial listing of "Pittsburghers:"

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Article: Album Review

Dmitry Baevsky: Soundtrack

Read "Soundtrack" reviewed by David A. Orthmann


A collection of songs, some of which are likely to be included in aficionados' play lists; interpretations that don't stray very far off the beaten path; and a band of players who share a vision of how the material should be handled. It's the recipe for many recordings—past, present and future— within the mainstream of jazz. ...

News: Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Ahmad Jamal

Jazz Musician of the Day: Ahmad Jamal

All About Jazz is celebrating Ahmad Jamal's birthday today! In 1951, Mr. Jamal first recorded 'Ahmad's Blues' on Okeh Records. His arrangement of the folk tune 'Billy Boy', and 'Poinciana' (not his original composition), also stem from this period. In 1955, he recorded his first Argo (Chess) Records album that included 'New Rhumba', 'Excerpts From The ...

8

Article: Interview

Jeremy Monteiro: No Black Tie Required

Read "Jeremy Monteiro: No Black Tie Required" reviewed by Ian Patterson


Jeremy Monteiro has been Singapore's unofficial jazz ambassador since the late 1970s, carving out a pioneering path around the world. The first South East Asian to perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival and the first S.E. Asian to record for the Verve label, Monteiro has made a habit of playing with the very best, from James ...

11

Article: Album Review

Greg Abate: Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron

Read "Magic Dance: The Music of Kenny Barron" reviewed by Rob Rosenblum


Magic Dance is an offering by multi instrumentalist Greg Abate, who is a proud keeper of the bebop flame. In the 75 plus years that bebop has been around, there have probably been hundreds of thousands of quartet records with sax, piano, bass and drums, a few of which have been contributed by Abate. But this ...

15

Article: Album Review

Various Artists: Impulse Records: Music, Message & The Moment

Read "Impulse Records: Music, Message & The Moment" reviewed by Chris May


Those of us for whom Impulse has been as important a part of our cultural lives as Blue Note, perhaps even a more important one, will not be satisfied until the label reissues its entire catalogue on remastered CDs and audiophile vinyl. In the meantime, it would be churlish to do anything other than applaud such ...

16

Article: Profile

Con Alma: Keeping Pittsburgh Jazz Thriving in Trying Times

Read "Con Alma: Keeping Pittsburgh Jazz Thriving in Trying Times" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan


Not mentioned nearly enough as a locale that nurtured some of jazz music's most memorable artists, jny: Pittsburgh can boast a jazz history that is unparalleled, especially for a city of its size. Just a partial list of icons that hailed from the area would include Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, Erroll Garner, George Benson, and Stanley ...

7

Article: Radio

Ellington Today - Always Hip

Read "Ellington Today - Always Hip" reviewed by Russell Perry


Every year dozens of top-flight musicians cover tunes from the biggest book in jazz--the Duke Ellington Songbook--with some 1,100 entries. In this hour of Jazz at 100 Today!, we'll listen to a few of the diverse responses to this body of work ranging from pianists Frank Kimbrough, Ahmad Jamal, Fred Hersch and Norah Jones to guitarists ...

Musician

Richie Pratt

Born:

Beginnings - Kansas City Richie Pratt (March 11, 1943 – February 12, 2015, born Richard Dean Tyree) was an American jazz drummer. He embarked upon a career as a professional musician on the New York scene in the early 1970s, it was as much due to an unanticipated sporting injury as anything else. Pratt was born into a musical family (his mother was a church pianist and a brother is saxophonist, Chris Burnett) and grew up in the Kansas City metro city of Olathe, Kansas. He first studied music via the piano, as well as, attended various music camps as a youth prior to attending college as a music major at the University of Kansas. Prolific Years - New York City Richie Pratt’s prolific tenure as a first-call percussionist on the highly competitive New York City music scene began after he suffered a career-ending injury during his second season with the Giants

3

News: Recording

Celebrated Bassist and Producer Leon Lee Dorsey Announces the Release of 'Thank You, Mr. Mabern!,' A Trio Recording Featuring The Late Jazz Luminary Harold Mabern

Celebrated Bassist and Producer Leon Lee Dorsey Announces the Release of 'Thank You, Mr. Mabern!,' A Trio Recording Featuring The Late Jazz Luminary Harold Mabern

Leon Lee Dorsey is pleased to announce the release of Thank You, Mr. Mabern! Recorded in July 2019, two months prior to the passing of jazz luminary Harold Mabern, the album is the swan song for the great pianist and composer, his final recording. This posthumous release is not only Dorsey’s personal farewell to Mabern, it ...


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