ahmad jamal

The feeling — as with Miles Davis, as with Prince — is of a bandleader’s constant, watchful manipulation, tension and release for maximum thrills. Mr. Jamal was a gold-plated tease, surging the volume, raising the tempo to punk-speed, or previewing four bars of his late-’50s hit “Poinciana” well before he got around to playing it.
— New York Times

One of the most individualistic pianists, composers, and arrangers of his generation, Ahmad Jamal's disciplined technique and minimalist style had a huge impact on trumpeter Miles Davis, and Jamal is often cited as contributing to the development of cool jazz throughout the 1950s.

Though Jamal was a highly technically proficient player, well-versed in the gymnastic idioms of swing and bebop, he chose to play in a more pared down and nuanced style. Which is to say that while he played with the skill of a virtuoso, it was often what he chose not to play that marked him as an innovator. Influenced by such pianists as Errol Garner, Art Tatum, and Nat King Cole, as well as big-band and orchestral music,Jamal developed his own boundary-pushing approach to modern jazz that incorporated an abundance of space, an adept use of tension and release, unexpected rhythmic phrasing and dynamics, and a highly melodic, compositional style.