The famous American jazz pianist, composer and conductor Ahmad Jamal has died at the age of 92, French and American media announced on Sunday April 16.
The artist's widow, Laura Hess-Hey, has confirmed his death, The Washington Post reported. His daughter, Sumayah Jamal, told The New York Times that he has prostate cancer. Ahmad Jamal has influenced the work of famous musicians such as trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist McCoy Tyner.
Ahmad Jamal - born Frederick Russell Jones in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who converted to Islam in 1950 - has received multiple awards during his seven-decade career. He was notably made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters in France in 2007 and had obtained a Grammy Award for his entire career in 2017.
African-American, Ahmad Jamal had started in the 1940s, during the bebop revolution and helped attract a wider audience to jazz. His style is described as based on surprise, ruptures, the use of silences, with romantic accents, with a phrasing that is both dynamic and light.
"His musical concept was a great innovation"
The New Yorker, in an article published in 2022 on the occasion of the release of several unreleased recordings, stated that, in the 1950s, "his musical concept was one of the great innovations of the time, even if his stripped down and daring originality escaped many listeners".
The album Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing: But Not for Me, released in 1958, marked the beginning of his success. It spent more than a hundred weeks on the Billboard chart, the American ranking of the most popular titles. According to the New York Times, it became one of the best-selling instrumental records of the time. Dozens more followed in what The Times called a "jewel-studded catalog."
In an interview with The Times in late 2022, Ahmad Jamal said, "I'm still evolving, every time I sit down at the piano. "I always have new ideas," he added.