Category Archives: Music And History

Book cover: Rebelmusic

Jazz and Islam: A Retrospective Series (P. 6 – Final)

The Musicians 

Text by Dawoud Kringle

This continued series explores the relation between jazz and Islam. In this installment, I am continuing the presentation of the biographies of Muslim jazz artists.

Idris Muhammad was born Leo Morris in New Orleans (1939-2014). He began playing the drums at age 8. Before he reached the age of 21, he’d recorded with Sam Cooke and Jerry Butler, and was a respected session drummer for record labels such as Imperial, Specialty, and Ace. In the 1960s his music experienced a profound change due to the influence of John Coltrane. This led to a synthesis of R&B and jazz. He worked with Lou Donaldson 1965-67. In 1969-73 He worked as drummer for the Broadway musical “Hair” and 1970-72, he was the house drummer for Prestige Records. His releases as a leader include “Black Rhythm Revolution”, “Peace and Rhythm”, “Kabsha”, “My Turn”, and “Right Now”. Muhammad has performed or recorded with Larry Williams, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfeild, Sonny Stitt, Charles Earland, Gene Ammons, Pharoah Saunders, Roberta Flack, John Hicks, Randy Weston, Jamil Nassr, John Scofield, Roberta Flack, Johnny Griffin, George Coleman, Randy Brecker, his wife, vocalist Sakinah Muhammad, and countless others.

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Book cover: Rebelmusic

Jazz and Islam: A Retrospective Series (P.3/B)

The Musicians

Text by Dawoud Kringle

The following are selected biographies of American Muslim musicians continued from here.

Pianist Sadik Hakim (a.k.a. Argonne Thorton 1919-83) got his start with Ben Webster, and eventually went to New York with him. He stayed with Webster, and also played with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. He toured with Lester Young from 1946-48, and recorded “Jumpin’ with Symphony Sid” in 1947. Around this time, he accepted Islam. From 1951-54 he toured with James Moody and from 1956-60 played with Bud Tate’s orchestra. In 1966 he moved to Montreal, Canada. After a time, he returned to New York, and toured Japan 1979-80.

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Book cover: Rebelmusic

Jazz And Islam – A Retrospective Series (P.3/A)

The Musicians

Text by Dawoud Kringle

The following are selected biographies of American Muslim musicians.

Art Blakey (a.k.a. Abdullah ibn Buhauna) was born in 1919, and became a full time musician in his teens. He switched from piano to drums in the early 1930s. He played with Chick Webb and Sid Catlett. In 1942 he joined Mary Lou Williams, and later played with Fletcher Henderson. Between 1944-47 he played with Billy Eckstine, Dexter Gordon, Fats Navarro, Miles Davis, etc. It was around this time that he accepted Islam, and took the name (Abdullah ibn Buhauna). In 1947 he traveled to Africa to learn about Islam and his African ancestry. His practice of Islam became central to his life and music. Blakey was reported to have hosted meetings of Muslims in his home. According to one account, Yusef Lateef had accepted Islam during one of these meetings. Blakey also used to hold a prayer session with the musicians in his group The Jazz Messengers before performances. In the 1950’s he performed with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, and Clifford Brown. In 1955 Blakey, Hank Mobley, and Silver formed a cooperative group, under the name The Jazz Messengers. This project continued into the late 1980s and served as a springboard for many musicians (e.g. Donald Byrd, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, Chuck Mangione, Keith Jarrett, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, JoAnne Brakeen, Terance Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, etc).

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