Heavily Sampled Jazz Legend Ahmad Jamal Has Passed Away

Ahmad Jamal, the Grammy Award-winning Jazz pianist, band leader, and composer, has died. He was 92 when he passed earlier today (April 16) at his Massachusetts home.

Jamal, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has over 70 years of recordings in his discography—which also includes the Ahmad Jamal Trio, and collaborative work with Ray Brown. In addition to a catalog with titles such as PoincianaHappy Moods, and The Awakening, Jamal’s music was sampled for songs by Nas, De La Soul, JAY-Z, and Common. London Jazz News first reported the news.

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Jazz journalist Alex Dulith wrote about Jamal’s passing, sharing, “A sadness to immeasurable. Suddenly, the effluents of the immense joys he has given us during his seven decades career, by his singular ‘aesthetics of desire,’ by his staging of silences, his art of suspense, his way of playing the quartet as well as the piano.

A giant just went missing a few hours ago from his home in Massachusetts at 1:57 PM on April 16. He was 92 years old. He was my grandfather of heart and brains.

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Jamal’s recording career launched atop the 1950s, where he recorded for Okeh Records. In 1958, Ahmad issued Happy Moods, a collection of Jazz ballads. He eventually moved to Atlantic and Impulse. Over his extensive career, until the late 2010s, Jamal worked with Gary Burton, Yusuf Lateef, Idris Muhammad, and Calvin Keys.

In the early 1990s, Pete Rock sampled the trio’s “I Love Music” for Nas’ “The World Is Yours.” That same period saw No I.D. use “Dolphin Dance,” from the same album, on Common Sense’s “Resurrection.” J Dilla and De La used “Swahililand” for “Stakes Is High,” while DJ Premier was among the first to source Jamal’s music for early Gang Starr LPs.

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Ambrosia For Heads extends condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Ahmad Jamal.