Ahmad Jamal, influential jazz pianist, dies at 92

Musician recorded his popular album “At the Pershing/But Not for Me” in Chicago.

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Ahmad Jamal smiles in Paris in 2012.

Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

Ahmad Jamal, the influential pianist who recorded one of jazz’s seminal albums in Chicago, died Sunday at age 92.

His daughter, Sumayah Jamal, told the New York Times the cause of death was prostate cancer.

Jamal’s many admirers included Miles Davis, who wrote in his autobiography that the pianist “knocked me out with his concept of space, his lightness of touch, his understatement, and the way he phrases notes and chords and passages.”

A native of Pittsburgh, where he was a musical prodigy, Jamal moved to Chicago in his 20s and performed at local clubs. It was at a South Side venue in 1958 that he recorded “At the Pershing/But Not for Me,” which included his signature song, “Poinciana.”

“It’s a perfect record, remarkable in concept and purity — the intonation is flawless,” a less-than-humble Jamal told the Sun-Times in 1992. “We did things that became a model for other trios, for Oscar Peterson, for Ramsey Lewis. It’s a shame it couldn’t be patented.”

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