Category: Jamal, Ahmad

Two 1979 Ahmad Jamal Interviews with Les Tompkins

AhmadJamalHere are two interviews by Les Tomkins with the great pianist Ahmad Jamal, both interviews conducted in 1979. Jamal talks a lot about commercial success, or the lack thereof for jazz musicians. Interesting stuff. He also discusses his time with Chess and different musical projects of his. From the interview:

Every day we hear Wolfgang Mozart’s great works, but no one knows where the man was buried; his funeral was attended by a gravedigger and a dog. So why shouldn’t it be that a musician enjoys something during his life? Why does it have to be a Mozart thing all the time? It’s ridiculous. Mozart was commercial, huh? Or I should say: he wasn’t thought to be commercial enough at the time, but now he’s commercial. But the things he was writing then are the same things you hear now. The success is no good to him now.

In the case of Franz Liszt, of course, he was a very great technician, and he also enjoyed the financial reward for it at the time. It’s unfortunate when it doesn’t happen like that to every hard–working musician. In the case of George he’s not only artistically sound, but he’s receiving the fruits of his labour. It’s important that there should be some recognition of talent during that talent’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, there is this thinking, that once you start making any kind of money, your artistry becomes somehow devalued. You have to be on your last legs, in all sorts of dues–paying situations, before they’ll say: “Well, there goes a great musician.” This is preposterous.

Click here to read Two 1979 Ahmad Jamal Interviews with Les Tompkins Part One; Part Two

—Peter Blasevick

2011 Ahmad Jamal Interview with Joe Alterman

AhmadJamalMore Ahmad Jamal interviews for the living legend’s birthday week. Here is a cool interview from 2011 from Joe Alterman’s Blog. Jamal covers a ton of topics including Pittsburgh, learning lyrics, and Erroll Garner. HEre he is discussing his repertoire:

Joe Alterman: One of the things that I’ve always loved about your playing is your repertoire. I’m curious how you were originally introduced to the great standards. 

Ahmad Jamal: My aunt, who was an educator in North Carolina, sent me many, many compositions via sheet music, and that’s how I gained the vast repertoire that you hear me indulge in. I was sent those things by her gracious efforts from 10 years old and on. So my Aunt Louise was the one responsible for me acquiring that vast repertoire of standards…It’s a combination of what she did and also working around one of the great cities for musicians, or people who were developing a career in music: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. So working with groups in Pittsburgh, and what she sent me, and the environment under which I grew up in. As you know I…well you don’t know (laughter), but I sold papers to Billy Strayhorn’s family when I was seven years old. So we [Pittsburgh] have Billy Strayhorn and Erroll Garner and Earl Hines and Roy Eldridge, Ray Brown, Art Blakey, and a pianist that you’ve probably never heard of, Dodo Momarosa. He was a great pianist…And Earl Wild, the great exponent of Liszt; a great interpreter of Franz Liszt…And Gene Kelly the tap dancer. The list goes on and on and on…George Benson, who was a much later personality that developed in Pittsburgh. But he’s a Pittsburgh personality, as well as Stanley Turrentine. It goes on and on and on.

Click here to read 2011 Ahmad Jamal Interview with Joe Alterman

1999 interview with Ahmad Jamal

AhmadJamalThe all-time legend that is Ahmad Jamal celebrates his celebrates his 83rd birthday this Tuesday July 2nd, so we will be posting his interviews this week in his honor. In today’s interview, posted at, Felix Lamouroux interviewed Ahmad Jamal about his work, life and future at the Philharmony of Cologne, Germany in 1999. From the interview:

Do you listen to your own music?
It’s about all I listen to. I don’t listen to a lot of music, I’m very particular about what I listen to. I listen to my own music more now than any other because I’m busy with writing now. I’m in a very productive phase of my life – I’m writing all the time now. I’ve started two compositions since I’ve been in Cologne. I started writing as soon as I got to the hotel – I started hearing some things. So I’m listening a lot to my own thing, cause I’m writing a lot, and when you write you have to listen.

Click here to listen to 1999 interview with Ahmad Jamal

Ahmad Jamal: A National Treasure Speaks

‘It’s an affront to go up to Wynton [Marsalis] or me and say, ‘I play classical music.’ We are the superior practitioners. Nine times out of ten, a man who’s playing first chair in a symphony can’t play ‘Happy Birthday.'”

Ahmad Jamal is always interesting, and he discusses a number of topics ranging from creativity to silence to free jazz in this short 2008 gem with

Click here to read Ahmad Jamal: A National Treasure Speaks