At a time when Miles Davis was singing Ahmad Jamal's praises to anyone who would listen, hailing the pianist as an influence on his own thinking as a bandleader, the opposing view was best expressed by Martin Williams, the most persuasive jazz critic of the 1950s and '60s (and my mentor long before I knew him personally). "Jamal's real instrument is not the piano at all, but his audience," Williams wrote in 1961, caricaturing the artist's style thusly: "On some numbers, he will virtually sit things out for a chorus, with only some carefully worked out rhapsodic harmonies by his left hand or coy tinklings by his right. After that, a few bombastic block chords by both... More >>>