In "Miles, the Biography," celebrated jazz trumpeter Miles Davis admitted that "when people say Jamal influenced me a lot, they're right." Pittsburgh-born jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal's influence has had a wide reach in this uniquely American idiom, styling jazz piano arrangements during the past 71 years.
Salt Lake audiences will be able to enjoy his trademark sound on Monday, Oct. 8, as part of the Jazz at the Sheraton Series in the City Centre Sheraton Hotel. The performance will begin in the ballroom at 7:30; tickets can be purchased by calling Holladay Pharmacy at 278-0411.
Beginning piano at the age of 3, Jamal realized an early talent for the genre. He had already joined the musicians union at age 14, and as soon as he graduated from high school, he began touring. His first big success came in 1958. Jamal was then playing with bassist Israel Crosby and drummer Vernell Fournier as the house trio at Chicago's Pershing Hotel, and he cut a live album for Argo (Chess) Records entitled "But Not For Me." The album and accompanying hit single remained on the Top 10 best-seller chart an unprecedented 108 weeks!
With the financial success that followed, Jamal opened a restaurant/club in Chicago, the Alhambra, where he was able to do community work and give more attention to producing albums; he has recorded 13 throughout his career. Jamal's music was later used in films; two songs from his hit album "But Not For Me" were featured in Clint Eastwood's "The Bridges of Madison County," and Jamal performed the title piece (by Johnny Mandel) for the "MASH" film soundtrack.