Jazz Legend Ahmad Jamal Has Died At 92
American Jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal performs on stage at the Royal Festival Hall on January 27, 2014 in London, United Kingdom (Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images).
Ahmad Jamal, jazz pianist, composer, and co-founder of “cool jazz,” has died. Confirmed by The Washington Post, via Jamal’s wife Laura Hess-Hey, Jamal died on Sunday (April 16) at 92 years old after a battle with prostate cancer. Jamal’s influence expanded from classical and jazz to hip-hop, where his compositions were sampled by ‘90s rap acts including Nas (“The World Is Yours”), Common (“Resurrection”), De La Soul (“Stakes Is High”), Gang Starr (“Soliloquy of Chaos”) and Shadez of Brooklyn (“Change”).
Born Frederick Russell Jones in Pittsburgh on July 2, 1930, Jamall’s introduction to music began in childhood, as he studied formal piano at 7 years old. Although the budding musician surveyed the likes of Count Basie, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Art Tatum, Jones’ neighbors included pianists Errol Garner, Earl Hines, and Mary Lou Williams. Jones, who would embark on a professional career at 14 and join George Hudson’s Orchestra, later converted to Islam during a Detroit tour stop in his 20s, changing his name to ‘Ahmad Jamal.’
In the 1950s, Jamal would begin the jazz trio The Three Strings with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernel Fournier, who signed to Okeh Records and released their debut album Ahmad’s Blues. The trio’s 1958 album At The Pershing: But Not For Me would remain on the Billboard Top 200 chart for 108 weeks and be revered as one of the most influential jazz albums of all-time. Nearly fifteen years later, Jamal would release his 1970 masterpiece The Awakening, assisted by bassist Jamil Nasser and drummer Frank Gant.
Including his works as part of The Three Strings, Jamal would release 70 albums, including his final album, 2019’s Ballades. Two years prior, Jamal received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Check out tributes to Jamal below.
RIP Ahmad Jamal
one of my favorite piano players ever
any time someone asks what’s a good record to start out with when looking to get into jazz, this one is always in my starting 5 list
a perfect LP – goes down easy but sticks with you & only gets better from repeated listens pic.twitter.com/ZKIKR4vnZb
— K— F— (@kennyfresh) April 16, 2023
rip to the incomparable ahmad jamal. few can make the keys sing as he did, even fewer have the ability to open sonic pathways to the soul. we will always sing your name.
ahmad jamal trio live in 1971. pic.twitter.com/yQCzVuUYa1
— maya cade (@mayascade) April 16, 2023
Rest in peace to jazz great Ahmad Jamal, sending our love and condolences to his family, loved ones, and fans.
What an incredible impact you’ve left with us, thank you for your service we got it from here. 🙏🏾🕊️🎹
Learn more about him via his website: https://t.co/2SwXgdfUxs pic.twitter.com/iyjZa1Bj94
— #blkcreatives netwrk🏁 (@blkcreatives) April 16, 2023
At the age of 92, the one and only Ahmad Jamal has passed away. There will never be another. 💔#jazzisdead pic.twitter.com/8iAtXZne5h
— Jazz Is Dead (@jazzisdeadco) April 16, 2023
RIP Ahmad Jamal 🕊
The legendary musician was sampled by Jay Z, De La Soul, Gang Starr, Common, & countless others. pic.twitter.com/vCvxaUmwSV
— Ruben || Check the Rhyme (@checktherhyme1_) April 17, 2023
So long and thank you, Ahmad Jamal. pic.twitter.com/EHgpNytAec
— The Jazz Session with Jason Crane (@JazzSesh) April 16, 2023
Rest in Peace to Ahmad Jamal, a remarkable and prolific talent whose influence as a jazz pianist spans many genres. His catalog is diverse, rich, and incredibly vast. I highly recommend exploring it in depth and taking time to sit with both his celebrated and lesser-known work. pic.twitter.com/qz6FH6igDo
— Micro-Chop (@micro_chop) April 17, 2023
Rest in Power, Ahmad Jamal 🖤 pic.twitter.com/7YTyKgRSaM
— BRAINFEEDER (@BRAINFEEDER) April 17, 2023
R.I.P. Ahmad Jamal❤️❤️🕊️🕊️
— James Poyser (@jamespoyser) April 16, 2023