Ask Pete Rock about Ahmad Jamal. He might tell you that chords tumble out of Jamal’s piano like water falling over a series of rocks—with total ease, to devastating effect. It is from this chordal cascade that Rock sculpted the soundscape to Nas’s immortal “The World Is Yours,” sampling Jamal’s pristine “I Love Music.” Jamal is a noted jazz minimalist, letting the spaces left in-between his tasteful notes speak for themselves, and in this way, his music emphasizes all the forced silences of slavery and displacement that rest at the heart of the African-American cultural tradition. Jazz occupies a privileged position as the art music of that tradition, and no jazz pianist represents the restrained elegance of the African-American struggle for expression better than Jamal. Perhaps this is why he has been able to enter his eighth decade, both as a human being and a pianist, with the same focus and vision that saw him erupt on the scene with 1958’s Live At The Pershing. His 2012 release Blue Moon shows that the world is still his.
Sept. 18-21, 8 p.m., 2013