Jamal, Ahmad, 1930–, American jazz pianist, b. Pittsburgh, Pa. He started playing the piano at the age of three and became interested in jazz during the bop era. He began playing professionally at 18 and shortly thereafter came to the attention of Miles Davis, who cited Jamal as an important influence. In 1951 he formed his first trio; he has continued to create a uniquely orchestral sound, defining the jazz trio for some 50 years. In 1958 he and his group recorded Ahmad Jamal at the Pershing, featuring the song "Poinciana," which became his signature tune. Jamal has been acclaimed for his cool post-bop style, melodic and rhythmic improvisations, dramatic pacing, dynamic effects, innovative small-ensemble arrangements, and use of musical space.
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