I’ve spoken with Herbie Hancock about how George Shearing was one of his influences. But not about Ahmad Jamal, some aspects of whose work builds upon Shearing, but then does far, far more that is distinctly Jamal. I’ve wondered about this and hope to inquire further. I know that he has been a major influence on all the members of Keith Jarrett’s trio, each of whom have been pianists.
Ahmad Jamal played this evening at the Saratoga Jazz Festival, and he played a wonderful set. Just exquisite. After his set, I had the opportunity to speak with him for a short while, something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I told him how, in high school, after leaving Juliiard, I was playing rock and roll. My friend, composer / pianist Bevan Manson lent me “The Awakening”, suggesting that this is what I should really be listening to. I wasn’t sure how to understand it at the time, but eventually really got that it was indeed what I should be listening to. And then I heard “Live at the Pershing”. So, tonight I had the chance to tell Ahmad how I came to hear his music and the ways I’ve deeply learned from it – the clear sense of focus, use of contrast, and conceptual design. It was a very touching moment for me, and he sounded grateful to hear it.