One of the most influential pianists of all time shaped many of those who came after, often whether they wanted it or not. Miles Davis was famous for stopping a recording session because he wanted the piano player to play ‘block chords’ rather than a melodic intro to a song. For those who may not know what block chords are they are when a piano player plays simultaneous notes on the piano to create a fuller sound. This is opposed to a single note melody. Just listen to the first 35 seconds of this video.
What Miles is really saying in the recording is “No, Red, play more like Ahmad Jamal.” Miles played with Ahmad early in his career and, aside from Charlie Parker, the young pianist left one of the biggest impressions on him.
If you’re curious about what Ahmad sounds like, check out “Poinciana – Live at The Pershing Lounge.” This tune has been at the core of Ahmad’s career for a very long time; he plays Poinciana at every concert. Does he love it? I should think he must. Do the rest of us love it? Yes. He’s played it so many times in so many ways it’s become a second home far away from here, a place so beautiful he needs to show it to as many people as he can. So every evening he visits and takes a lucky few of us along.
I know that I listen to this track a lot. If I were to see Ahmad in concert I would want to hear it and visit that place, and I think I might be just a little disappointed if I didn’t and couldn’t. But I am quite certain if I got to see him I would.
So here lies my thought: repeated actions beget expectation. Expectations beget the expected. Repetition leads to refinement and ascension. Ascended actions lead to fulfillment. We live in search of fulfillment, which then leads back to the expected action.
What if we all found something to do that we loved and everyone loved it when we did that thing? We’ll be led to do that thing every night.
What if that thing were loving people the way Christ loved people?
We’re being asked to do this all the time. We’re asking this of ourselves. Let’s look at it the way Ahmad might look at Poinciana. Do it because it’s expected, because you love it, and because it’s too beautiful not to share.