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Jamal's, and Our, Legacy ...
02/05/2012

 

One of the first times I talked to Jamal Muhammad was when some years ago after I finished the first draft of my book on jazz; I sought him out at Tower Records where he was working then. I told him I had written a book about jazz and wondered if he would take a look at it and give me some preliminary comments – fellow WPFW programmer, and jazz and blues vocalist and personality Nap Turner had looked at it and told me a few helpful things already.

Jamal looked at me and said, “I’m working on my own book” about jazz in D.C.

I hope he finished his and it will soon be out there for the masses of those of us jazzophiles to read and learn about the music. Because if ever there was anyone who should have written a book, it had to be Jamal Muhammad, whose stories of the people and the music that he told on his shows on WPFW have become, surely, like the village griot passing on stories to the younger folks, so that they too can pass them on, keeping the legacy alive for all ages.

From a tape I made of him in 2006… a long track of hot bebop, then Jamal’s voice … “Good evening, how are you ladies and gentlemen … Clifford Brown, the last time that the band recorded… it was a week before Clifford and Richie Powell and his wife’s untimely death… in Norfolk, Va. … and it was the first and only time Clifford played ‘Just One of Those Things”…

Then he went on to give his listeners more facts about Brown’s last recordings, ending with, before jumping into another piece of music, “My name is Jamal Muhammad and this is WPFW and nobody does it like we do!”

It is sad the passing of these giants, with Muhammad passing this past Saturday, according to information from the radio station. But then a revelation, when you think of how much you learned by that person being around to inform and inspire you in the first place. And you try to take heart, and resolve to attempt to pass on the information, the education, for the betterment of all those you touch and will come after you.

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