We tend to think of Ahamd Jamal as a pioneer of the elegant jazz trio, a style he perfected in the 1950s by making ample use of space, swing and the upper register of the piano keyboard. Or we think of Ahmad's more recent abstract recordings that are bold and percussive. In between, there was a brief period when Ahmad recorded on the Fender Rhodes electric piano. He released only three studio albums on which he recorded extensively on the instrument. Of course, all three albums for 20th Century Fox albums came out in the 1970s.
No instrument reminds more of that decade. We can thank CBS for the Fender Rhodes, which is notable for its warm bell-like tones. Invented by Harold Rhodes after World War II as a budget keyboard for returning soldiers, CBS bought Fender in 1965, and Harold Rhodes remained with the company. Student models were released in the late 1960s, and the familiar 73-key model was first produced in 1970. As the electric instrument rapidly became popularity, other models were manufactured. The company was sold to Roland in 1987 before Rhodes bought it back in 1997. He died in 2000. Today, the Rhodes electric piano is sold by Rhodes Piano.
Ahmad's first studio album featuring the Fender Rhodes was Ahmad Jamal '73, on which he's accompanied by an orchestra conducted by Richard Evans. It's a soul-jazz masterpiece in sync with the times. I've always viewed this album as a concept recording, to be heard from beginning to end, and it's one of my favorite Fender Rhodes recordings. Every song is beautifully articulated and includes a few hits of the day, including War's The World Is a Ghetto; Stevie Wonder's Superstition; The Stylistics' Children of the Night, by Thom Bell and Linda Creed; and Ratwani Za Yemeni's Sustah, Sustah.
The second album Ahamd recorded mostly on the Fender Rhodes was Jamaica (1974). He was backed by Richard Evans and Jamil Nasser (b), Brian Grice and Frank Gant (d), Marilyn Haywood, Vivian Haywood, Jimmy Spink, Morra Stewart and Charles Colbert (vcl), as well as an orchestra. The Stylistics' Ghetto Child by Thom Bell and Linda Creed opens the album, followed by Trouble Man by Marvin Gaye; Leon Sylvers' Misdemeanor; and Johnny Mandel's Suicide Is Painless from M*A*S*H.
The third and final Rhodes album by Ahamad was Jamal Plays Jamal (1974), which featured six original compositions. Here he switched between the Fender Rhodes and the piano. Ahmad was backed by Jamil Nasser (b), Frank Gant (d) and Azzedin Weston (congas).
Ahmad Jamal is still active today. His most recent album is Ahmad Jamal: Marseille, which you can hear at Spotify.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.