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Measured maestro of the jazz piano, Ahmad Jamal, dies at 92

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Ahmad Jamal, storied jazz pianist and bandleader, has died at 92. His career spanned over seven decades.

(SOUNDBITE OF AHMAD JAMAL'S "POINCIANA")

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Jamal's 1958 album "At The Pershing: But Not For Me" stayed on the charts for 108 weeks. In 2014, he told NPR he kind of saw it coming.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

AHMAD JAMAL: I just knew that we had something of value. I had the feeling that it was going to be a success - not to the extent that - of course, you can't be that clairvoyant.

MARTÍNEZ: Jamal inspired countless jazz musicians.

FADEL: Including Miles Davis, who once said, all my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal.

(SOUNDBITE OF AHMAD JAMAL TRIO'S "I LOVE MUSIC")

FADEL: His lush playing has also been widely sampled by hip-hop artists. Pianist Jason Moran isn't at all surprised by Jamal's enduring appeal.

JASON MORAN: Ahmad is timeless in a way that almost doesn't age. So there's something about what he - how he perforated the music, the air that he kind of infuses into it that always allows for the contemporary listener, no matter what decade they are in, to kind of fit themselves inside or have a moment to digest a crazy phrase he just played, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF AHMAD JAMAL TRIO'S "I LOVE MUSIC")

MARTÍNEZ: Jamal played shows and released new recordings well into his 80s. He reflected on the inevitability of death.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

JAMAL: You can't take anything with you. Only thing that's going in there is, what did you do? What did you do? That's all that's going in there because paradise and hell begin right here, in my opinion. I've experienced both a little bit - just a little bit. I hope I can experience a whole lot of paradise in this world and in the hereafter. Believe me.

FADEL: Ahmad Jamal leaves a little bit of paradise for the rest of us to enjoy.

(SOUNDBITE OF AHMAD JAMAL'S "AUTUMN RAIN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.