The legend jumps out of your records for a live gig in the city
Dust off your LPs and reacquaint yourself with the vibrant riffs of jazz pianist, Ahmad Jamal. An artiste who broke away from bebop when it was all the rage in the 40s and 50s, Jamal created lasting impressions on jazz, second only to Charlie Parker. With over 60 albums and countless awards to his credit, including the American Jazz Masters award, Jamal, now 83, visits the country for the first time with a performance in the city.
Getting on board
Jamal, once criticised for trying to change the dynamics and vigorous rhythms that were the norm for jazz of the bebopping 40s and 50s, contributed immensely to what is now known as modern or ‘cool’ jazz. Kamal Sagar, founder of Total Environment Music Foundation, the force behind the gig says it took him one meeting and a few emails to convince Jamal to make the trip. “My father and I met him after his performance in Paris last October and told him how much we loved his music and of the discerning jazz audience in Bangalore. Once he was convinced of the infrastructure and venue, he gave us his dates.” Sagar goes on to share what he loves most about Jamal. “With most musicians, you will like or even love about four to five tracks of an album. With Ahmad Jamal you will fall in love with thye whole album. Each track has its own character,” he tells us, naming Avo from the 1987 album, Crystal, as his top track.
Passion meets skill
Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and born to Baptist parents, Jamal converted to Islam in his early 20s right about the time he was growing in popularity – a growth he attributed to his conversion that brought him ‘peace of mind about his race’.
“His music carries an emotion and passion that many other highly technical jazz musicians don’t really have,” says Sagar, adding,
“And you don’t need to have a technical knowledge of jazz to enjoy him because of the ease of his style and the kind of energy he brings to the space even at his age.”
Carlton Braganza of Opus, agrees with Sagar. “He is right up there with the legends of jazz and the vibe of his music is what draws me,” shares Braganza who is most excited that “an artiste of his calibre is coming to Bangalore”. Having missed him perform twice before, Braganza says his pick from the many records of Jamal he owns, would be Poinciana.
7 pm. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram. Tickets (Rs. 1,000 upwards) on bookmyshow.com