Ahmad Jamal was born in Pittsburgh in 1930, where he began playing piano at the age of three. Performing professionally when he was just fourteen. Aged twenty he moved to Chicago, converted to Islam, and changed his name. He made his first recordings a year later, in 1951. Gaining acclaim and recognition as a member of the house band at the city`s Pershing Hotel. The band`s live recordings topped the charts of 1957. In 1959 he began touring the African continent. Jamal`s playing and arrangements moved in the opposite direction to the speed and complexity of Be Bop. His measured tempos and minimalist approach – his “concept of space” – were a key influence on Miles Davis` Kind Of Blue. He continues to record and tour and has won just about every award for Jazz – which he calls “American Classical Music” – you can think of. The Awakening was originally released on Impulse! in 1970. It was the last LP on which he used solely acoustic piano. Subsequently switching between Fender Rhodes.
For this reissue, Be With make much of The Awakening`s contribution to Hip Hop. Sampled as it is by countless classics (I`ve listed a few below). For me, it`s the sort of record I put on and listen to from beginning to end. Its gentle playing, full of joy and light, inspires thought. Encourages focus. Making it the perfect record to “work” to. It reeks of coffee, cigarettes, and innovation. Freedom. For me, it`s something for the morning. `Cos that`s when I seem to think the best. My head the clearest. Before the day`s new distractions.
Ahmad Jamal / The Awakening
Gangstarr / DJ Premier In Deep Concentration
Shadez Of Brooklyn / Change
Ahmad Jamal / I Love Music
Nas / The World Is Yours
Jeru the Damaja / Me Or The Papes
Ahmad Jamal / Dolphin Dance
Common / Resurrection
Ahmad Jamal / You’re My Everything
All Natural / Renaissance