Jazz Legend Ahmad Jamal Has Passed Away At 92

Ahmad Jamal
Ahmad Jamal in 2016 (Photo: Rémy Gabalda/ AFP via Getty Images)

Legendary jazz musician Ahmad Jamal died Sunday at his home in Ashley Falls, Massachusetts. He was 92. 

Jamal added to jazz’s original creativity with his spare piano style, which inspired several generations of jazz pianists, according to The New York Times. Jamal’s piano style stood out against the then-new bebop, which was taking over jazz when Jamal began his career during his teenage years in the 1940s.

“Bebop pianists, following the lead of Bud Powell, became known for their virtuosic flurries of notes. Mr. Jamal chose a different path, which proved equally influential,” The New York Times’ obituary. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ahmad Jamal (@ahmad.jamal.official)

Of course, this style proved fruitful for Jamal’s career and Black culture. Jamal racked up accolades such as the National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master award, a lifetime achievement Grammy and induction into France’s Order of Arts and Letters. 

In fact, the late cultural critic Stanley Crouch, who built his career as an exceptional writer, original thinker, and harsh critic who noted that “nothing says I want to live more than Jazz,” wrote that Charlie Parker was the only musician more important to the development of fresh form in jazz than Ahmad Jamal. 

Jamal didn’t limit his musical tastes, either. He also enjoyed classical music. 

“We didn’t separate the two schools,” Jamal recalled during a 2021 interview with The New York Times.

“We studied Bach and Ellington, Mozart and Art Tatum. When you start at 3, what you hear you play. I heard all these things.”

Jamal’s debut album, Ahmad Jamal Plays, recorded with guitarist Ray Crawford and Israel Crosby, was released in 1955. The following year, Ahmad Jamal Plays was re-released and retitled Chamber Music of the New Jazz. 

According to The Guardian, Jamal was married and divorced three times—to Virginia Wilkins, Sharifah Frazier and Laura Hess-Hay. He is survived by his daughter Sumayah, from his second marriage and two grandchildren.

RELATED CONTENTJazz Music Pioneer Ben Tankard and Media Mogul Jerry Adams Joint Venture with Streaming Networks SMOOTH LIFE TV and VTV