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Ahmad Jamal: Walking History

Ashley Kahn's in-depth profile of the legendary and influential pianist

Photo of Ahmad Jamal
Ahmad Jamal (photo: Cheung Ching Ming)
Shirley Horn

In this extensive interview with jazz piano legend Ahmad Jamal, Ashley Kahn explores his long history in the music and his remarkable ties to legends of the past, as well as his unique collaborations including one with singer/pianist Shirley Horn.

Ahmad Jamal is relaxing in the poolroom-or rather, the large room that contains a swimming pool-abutting his otherwise modest, tidy home in the rolling hills of upstate New York. The rewards of well over 50 years at his craft are earned and appropriate; his stately demeanor seems at one with his comfortable surroundings. He is gracious, offering fruit-flavored soda or water, and personable. He repeats his interviewer’s name often when answering queries like, after a lifetime’s worth of style-Ahmad Jamal’s never-ending momentum developing and legend-crossing experiences, would he ever write an autobiography?

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