The University Musical Society (UMS) presents An Evening with Ahmad Jamal on Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m. in Hill Auditorium (825 North University Avenue, Ann Arbor). Fifty-three years after his first release, But Not for Me (1958), Ahmad Jamal — the first jazz instrumentalist in history to sell over one million records — continues to create music infused with “a steely sense of control that has long been a part of the pianist’s artistic personality.” (Downbeat)
Jamal’s latest album, A Quiet Time (Dreyfus, 2010) — the much anticipated follow-up to the award- winning “Jazzman Album of the Year” release, It’s Magic (Dreyfus, 2008) — shot to #1 on the jazz charts, continuing Jamal’s tradition of inspiring musical artistry, sell-out concerts, and critical acclaim. As Jim Macnie of Downbeat writes, “…these days everything about his playing is a bit sharper, a touch more vivid, a smidge more fanciful. A Quiet Time is filled with audacious maneuvers. Frequent tempo changes, sudden melody switcheroos and unexpected flourishes are the norm.”
For his UMS performance, Ahmad Jamal will perform with the ensemble from A Quiet Time, which includes drummer Herlin Riley, who was for many years the drummer in the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, as well as James Cammack, bass and Manolo Badrena, percussion.
For tickets or additional information, contact the University Musical Society at 734-764-2538 or online at www.ums.org. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the League Ticket Office (911 North University Avenue). UMS Ticket Office hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., closed.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1930, Ahmad Jamal is one of the most celebrated names in jazz history. A child prodigy who began to play the piano at age three, Jamal began formal studies at seven. While in high school, he completed the equivalent of college master classes under well-known concert singer Mary Cardwell Dawson and pianist James Miller. He began touring upon graduation from high school, and at 21 formed his first trio, the Three Strings. While performing at New York’s Embers Club, the Three Strings were “discovered,” resulting in the production of multiple albums, including Jamal’s trademark piece “Poinciana,” which remained at the top of the charts for an unprecedented 108 weeks.
Jamal’s music is recognized as being rhythmically innovative, colorfully harmonic, and tastefully dynamic. Augmented by jazz musical standards and his own compositional styles, Jamal made an impression on many, most notably jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, who championed his influence broadly and famously stated, “All my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal.”
In addition to a multitude of top honors acquired over the six decades of his career, Mr. Jamal received the American Jazz Masters award from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1994. The same year he was named a Duke Ellington Fellow at Yale University, where he performed commissioned works with the Assai String Quartet. Now at 81, Ahmad Jamal continues to thrive as one of the world’s most beloved living jazz legends.