Amadle, Jimmy (James)

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Amadle, Jimmy (James)

Amadle, Jimmy (James), jazz pianist, educator; b. Philadelphia, Jan. 5, 1937. Beginning in the late 1950s, Amadie jammed regularly around Philadelphia, and worked with Mel Torme (recording with him in 1963), Woody Herman, Red Rodney, and Charlie Ventura. He was, for a time, house pianist at the Red Hill Inn in Pennsauken, N.J., where leading names played, and in 1960 he led the house trio at N.Y.’s Copacabana. But having begun the piano relatively late in life, Amadie engaged in a practice regimen so intense—he claims up to 80 hours a week—that he seriously injured his hands with tendinitis, eventually undergoing four operations for reconstructive surgery. He couldn’t touch the instrument between 1967 and 1995, and even today can only play for a few minutes at a time, every few weeks. Only by making first takes less than once a month over the course of 18 months was he able to complete his first solo recording, which was released in 1995. Steve Allen has written a lyric to the title track, “Always with Me.” Amadie has also composed and conducted music for National Football League Films. He composes and writes his self-published books by dictating them. For his books he developed a harmonic approach based on his system for creating chord voices, and a melodic approach based on tension and release, which he uses to integrate modal, tonal, and bi-tonal playing. A short film about Amadie was shown on CBS News Sunday Morning on April 13, 1997.


Harmonic Foundation for Jazz and Popular Music; Jazz Improv: How to Play It and Teach It (Bala Cynwyd, Pa.).


Always with Me (1995); Savoring Every Note (1998).

—Lewis Porter