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    Mr. Jamal was born on July 2, 1930, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A child prodigy who began to play music at the age of 3 when his uncle Lawrence challenged him to reproduce the sounds of popular music on the piano. 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. Upon hearing pianist Erroll Garner, another Pittsburgh native, Jamal turned his attentions towards jazz.

    Ahmad joined the musicians union at the age of 14, and he began touring upon graduation from Pittsburgh's prestigious 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
    Unfortunately, the trio disbanded in 1962, when Crosby left to join pianist George Shearing. Jamal then formed a new trio with bassist Jamil Nasser and drummer Chuck Lampkin. This trio released the album Macanudo among others. In 1967, Jamal released the album Standard Eyes and in 1968 he released Cry Young, which was a minor hit, spending several weeks on the pop album charts.

    In 1969, Jamal began to release many different projects and materials focusing on different styles of music. The album The Awakening featured Jamal playing Brazilian songs such as Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Wave." Other albums from this period included Freeflight and Outertimeinnerspace, which displayed the pianist's abilities on the Fender Rhodes electric piano. Freeflight was Jamal's 1972 set at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Jamal continued to work with arranger Richard Evans in the 1970s recording Ahmad Jamal '73.
    In the early 1980s, Jamal worked with vibraphonist Gary Burton, releasing several albums and touring extensively. Also during the 1980s, Jamal performed frequently with drummer Idris Muhammad who continues to work with the pianist to this day. In 1985, Jamal signed with Atlantic Records, marking his return to a major record label for the first time in over a decade. He released several albums on the label including Digital Works and Crystal. In the 1990s, Jamal switched over to the Telarc label releasing 1994's I Remember Duke, Hoagy, and Strayhorn. Now approaching his ninth decade in music, Jamal continues to perform and record actively. He currently resides in upstate New York, and has stated that the calmness and tranquility of the environment have aided in his longevity and continual creative process as a musician. Jamal's work has also been sampled by many different hip-hop artists, primarily by Kanye West, DJ Premier from Gangstarr, and Jay-Z who sampled Jamal for his 1996 hit album, Reasonable Doubt on the song "Feelin' It." Among his many honors, in 1994 Jamal was named a Jazz Master by the United States' National Endowment for the Arts, the nation's highest honor for jazz musicians.
    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".
    Ahmad Jamal and band find momentum swinging their way By Bill Beuttler (Boston Globe, January 23, 2004

    When most 73-year-olds indulge in an afternoon nap, it's because their careers are well behind them, and they've reached a point in life where they have trouble sleeping through the night and, consequently, staying awake all day. Ahmad Jamal, however, is not your typical 73-year-old. When the jazz piano titan failed to answer his telephone earlier this week at his home in New York's Hudson Valley, it was because he was trying to nap away a case of jet lag.

    "We're just coming back from Australia," he explains apologetically after returning his voice mail later that day. "That's why I'm up and down, bed-wise."

    Jamal's career, on the other hand, has been nothing but up recently. The trip to Australia was his first, after "some 40 years" of being asked. "I've had offers," he says, "but I've never accepted. They crossed the t's and dotted the i's this time, so we went there."

    "We" being the same trio that opens a three-night stand tonight at the Regattabar: Jamal, long-time bassist James Cammack, and drummer Idris Muhammad, a veteran sideman to everyone from Lou Donaldson and Joe Lovano to Fats Domino and Roberta Flack.

    Earlier this month they sold out the 2,679-seat Sydney Opera House. The same trio, which travels about six months a year, performs on Jamal's 2003 CD, "In Search of Momentum." And they appear together on a DVD, due out this spring, recorded last summer at a festival in Baalbek, Lebanon.

    Copyright www.ahmadjamal.net


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