Ahmad Jamal Obituary, Death – American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and educator who was born on July 2, 1930 and passed away on April 16, 2023. Over the course of six decades, he was widely regarded as one of jazz’s most accomplished small-group leaders. On July 2, 1930 in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jamal was given the name Frederick Russell Jones at birth. When he was three years old, his uncle Lawrence encouraged him to try his hand at the piano by challenging him to imitate what he was doing on the instrument.
At the age of seven, Jamal began his official piano study with Mary Cardwell Dawson, whom he describes as having been a significant influence on him. His roots in Pittsburgh have remained an essential component of his identity (in 2001, he stated that “Pittsburgh meant everything to me and it still does”), and it was in Pittsburgh that he was steeped in the impact of jazz musicians such as Earl Hines, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, and Erroll Garner. His Pittsburgh roots have remained an essential component of his identity. Jamal also studied piano with pianist James Miller, and he began playing the piano professionally at the age of fourteen.
At that point, pianist Art Tatum recognized Jamal as a “coming great,” and Jamal was hailed as a “coming great” by other pianists. Jamal responded to a critic from The New York Times who inquired about his method of practice by saying, “I used to practice and practice with the door open, hoping someone would come by and discover me.” I was never the practitioner in the sense of practicing music continuously for twelve hours a day, but music was always on my mind. Music is something that is constantly on my mind.