May 29, 2024

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Interview with Ahmad Jamal: The message is tranquility! Video, Photos

Jazz interview with jazz pianist and composer Ahmad Jamal. An interview by email in writing. – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

Ahmad Jamal: – This is a very interesting question and involves many, many things!

Preventing disparate influences is very difficult in any age but especially now as we have reached the apex of negativity, and distractions. Woe to those who don’t have a spiritual anchor. Without going into details, I will leave it there.

JBN: – How do you prepare before your performances to help you maintain both spiritual and musical stamina?

AJ: – I am retired now ,and did my last concert at Kennedy Center, Washington, DC., February 8th., 2020. One’s entire life is a performance and one must prepare spritually and physically. This is a daily requirement for success in any field of endeavor.

JBN: – What do you love most about your new album 2020: At The Pershing And
Other Live Recordings 1958-59 2020, how it was formed and what you are
working on today.

AJ: – The album you are referring to is a pirate in the fullest since of the word. “AT THE PERSHING AND OTHER LIVE RECORDINGS 1958-59 2020.

This is dereliction of duty on the part of UMG, which company bought these masters , and I have had to pay my lawyer to have this pirate removed from the market.

What UMG should be doing. There were only eight tracks out of 43 from that historic recording “At The Pershing” that I authorized for release!!! These 8 tracks are some of the most plagiarized in the history of the recording industry to say the least, especially our arrangement of “Poinciana” which is still making history.

I  have not listened to this pirate and probably never will and encourage all your readers not to buy  it. The original”At The Pershing”is still available and this is the one your readers are recommended to buy.

Acrobat Music > Albums A-Z

JBN: – What are you working on today?

AJ: – I am working on a project with Philip Solomon, guitarist, vocalist, to be released on my label AJP, LLC. We have been slowed down because of Covid-19.

My latest release was “Ballades” done in Paris while recording “Marseille”. Thank you!

Ahmad Jamal - Ballades - Music

JBN: – Ism is culled from a variety of lives dates with various performers over the course of a few years. Did your sound evolve during that time? And how did you select the musicians who play on the album?

AJ: – My sound evolved during my growing up years in one of the most important cities for music development in the world , Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is not possible to list all the notables that came out of my cherished home town, but each one had an indelible influence on the music world.

I have performed with some of the most remarkable musicians in the world and the selection  of the musicians that have made recordings with me over the years is the result.

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

AJ: – The balance in music between intellect and soul is discipline.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

AJ: – I have never been okay with the philosophy of giving people “what they want”. If you have something of value you will build your audience automatically.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

AJ: – One of my fondest memories is my concert at Carnegie Hall in 1952!!! Duke Ellington’s 25th., anniversary in music as a leader.

The concert included The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Billy Holiday, Charlie Parker with Strings, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz and incorrectly spelled,

The Amad Jamal Trio. I am the only living headliner from the concert.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

AJ: – The American Songbook is just as important as the European Songbook.

The standards are not old, they are  babies compared to Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, etc.

The main interest for young people wanting to study these two art forms is repertoire.

In Pittsburgh we had to study American Classical Music /Jazz and European Classical Music.

There is no such thing as old music, someone is programming or playing Mozart, Bach, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin as I write these answers.There are two types of music, good and bad , but not old!!!

“Lush Life” by my fellow Pittsburgher, Billy Strayhorn, is still a baby compared to Mozart. It is part of the American song Book.

If one wants to be successful performing  European Classical Music he or she must refer to the repertoire governing same.

If one wants to be successful performing in American Classical Music/Jazz,  he or she must know the American Songbook.

What is the most successful recording by John Coltrane??? Answer: “My Favorite Things” from The American Songbook!!!

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

AJ: – To  call this art form that has contributed to the culture of the world American Classical Music and not Jazz. The term Jazz is defined in some dictionaries to mean other things besides music!

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

AJ: – The message is tranquility!

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

AJ: – “It is what it is.” This life is an illusion. I look forward to the real world = The Hereafter. It’s not a question of “where you really wanna go” it is where you must go.SOONER OR LATER!!!  No one is getting out of here alive. We are only here for a few minutes. But we must take healthy directions while we are here.

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

AJ: – I pray five times a day and sometimes more. Standing , sitting, walking, riding. A constant discourse with THE CREATOR OF ALL THE WORLDS!

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

Ahmad Jamal declares his love for MarseilleAhmad Jamal

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