For decades, Jimmy Amadie played solely in his home, heard only by his students when he'd play for them during lessons. His performing career was derailed because of severe hand problems. But later in life, he achieved some fame for his albums — and for the story of what he'd had to overcome to make it possible for him to record. Amadie died of lung cancer on Dec. 10. He was 76.
Amadie became an educator after he was forced to stop playing. He wrote two instructional textbooks: one on the harmonic foundation of jazz, another on jazz improvisation. The story of how he was finally able to record several albums, and even perform one concert, involves Fresh Air executive producer Danny Miller, who studied piano with Amadie in the '70s and '80s. They remained good friends. Miller recently joined host Terry Gross to speak about Jimmy Amadie's life and career.