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Thread: Favorite muslim saxophone players

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    Default Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Reading the post regarding favorite christian saxophone players (btw my favorites would be Justo Almario - I've seen him twice in concert -and Kirk Whalum), I came to think about who our favorite muslim saxophone players are. My favorite is Hadi Shafi (born Curtis Porter), who played with Hank Mobley and with Mingus. He has so much soul in his tone and phrasing. A wonderful player, it is a pity he did not record more than he did. I also think Yussuf Lateef is a great player. Other great muslim saxophonists are Omar Hamed Abdul Karim (Jackie MacLean), Sahib Shihab (Edmund Gregory), Gigi Gryce, Frank Morgan, Musa Karim (Orlando Wright). I understand that most of the american muslim players converted to Islam to escape discrimination. John Coltrane was married to a muslim, and apparently studied Islam, as well as other religions, but, as far as I know, he was not himself a muslim. From other continents, the South African saxophonist Zim Ngqawana should be mentioned. I have heard some great saxophone playing in Moroccan music, but haven't yet identified any players by name. Does anybody have info on good sax players in Moroccan or other North African music?

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2010 magical pig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Lateef definitely (if he's Muslim...)

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Maybe Im missing something but I really dont care (or want to care) about a players religious beliefs any more than I care about his or her politics. It seems to me that these labels get in the way of really hearing. We already encounter the world with more baggage than we need. I cant see a reason to gather more. I mean really, does a christian sax player sound different than an atheist player?

    ...Just my opinion. Im open to be proven wrong.
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmund451 View Post
    Maybe Im missing something but I really dont care (or want to care) about a players religious beliefs...
    I agree with you, in principle. Part of the motivation for this thread was to balance the previous one about christian sax players, if that thread has any interest, I don't see why this one shouldn't be of equal (albeit perhaps low :-)) interest. On the other hand, it might to some extent be interesting to know, let's say, if you travel and meet people of various religions and beliefs to know something about that with reference to our favorite instruments. Now, I just have to find some more background info on my favorite Indian saxophone player so I can start a new thread...
    Greetings

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Ok, there is a whole article on This Site .

    Of course, in itself, is not important which religion you practice but it is undeniable that there was and is a philosophical role played by embracing Islam for many Jazz musicians since the ‘50.

    Yusef Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston; October 9, 1920) is most certainly a pious and practicing muslim and even the spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community which is a sect that seeks to integrate all prophets and prophecies found in the major religions and has as a motto “Love for All, Hatred for None”.

    Rashaan (Roland but was originally born as Ronald ) Kirk contrary to what one could think was not a practicing muslim but changed his name following a dream where also a voice commanded him to play multiple instruments .

    One of the most beautiful act of faith has to be this piece “ Ishmael” by Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly Adolph Johannes “Dollar" brand) . He is a pianist and a soprano sax player. I find his soprano playing extremely inspiring and inspired.






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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Does it really matter? It s like, name your favourite payer with red hair
    Jazz without the blues is like BBQ without the sauce - JL

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by SaxPunter View Post
    Does it really matter? It s like, name your favourite payer with red hair
    well, not more than it personally matters to be Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or whatever else BUT, in Jazz music history, choosing Islam, as well as being a faith, had also some philosophical and political implications which are all part of the Jazz ( and Blues) history really let alone, as demonstrated before a deep impact on their music !

    Not quite the same thing as the colour of their hair......

    http://jazzislam.wordpress.com/
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...NGMC85SSK1.DTL
    http://teaching.arts.usyd.edu.au/his...20I/cult7.html
    http://muslimvoicesfestival.org/reso...rn-music-scene
    http://arcmmcc.wordpress.com/2010/03...american-jazz/

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmund451 View Post
    Maybe Im missing something but I really dont care (or want to care) about a players religious beliefs any more than I care about his or her politics.
    I think I might care if the beliefs or politics offended me, but neither Christianity nor Islam does (apart from many of extreme the abuses of those faiths which we won't go into here for obvious reasons)

    Lynn Hope. (Al Hajj Abdullah Rasheed Ahmad)


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    Forum Contributor 2011 Steve Stockham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Not to "stir up the waters" or anything but I'm curious about the distinction, musically, between Christian and Muslim saxophone playing (otherwise, it's just another religion/politics thread which there are too many of already.) This Blues impact on their faith... did conversion to Islam impact their playing (sort of a reverse impact) and how? I'm speaking about musicality. Christian artists incorporate their belief into their playing. Do Muslim artists do likewise and how do they compare or contrast? I really hadn't given this much thought until I read this thread but it's definitely intriguing!

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    I believe culture is obviously a part of music in the larger sense...Im willing to bet, however, that a Christian sax player sounds no different than a Jewish or Muslim sax player raised in the same general environment (in as much as any player will sound like another).

    ...step away from religion and talk about the culture as a whole and I can see a huge number of variables come into play (including different scales and use of timing).
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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigmund451 View Post
    I believe culture is obviously a part of music in the larger sense...Im willing to bet, however, that a Christian sax player sounds no different than a Jewish or Muslim sax player raised in the same general environment (in as much as any player will sound like another).

    ...step away from religion and talk about the culture as a whole and I can see a huge number of variables come into play (including different scales and use of timing).
    That's true, but a large of the muslim (jazz or R&B) saxophone players are converts, so cultural variables such as use of scales and timing would not be learnt rather than "imbued".

    Any christian brought up with a lot of churchgoing may well have a real feel for gospel, and likewise many jews will have plenty of cultural variables to draw on, though I must admit I don't hear a lot of jewish music obviously influencing the styles of jewish jazz or blues (or classical) saxophone players.

    As with say, other cultural backgrounds such as African or Caribbean.

    Interesting topic though.

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    People should get things in correct context;
    Muslims are a people, but Islam is not a religion. Religious faith is only a part of Islam. The rest is a socially engineered society with its own laws and customs that seriously conflict with American law.

    I know several Muslim players that do not practice Islam at all because of what it teaches.

    I predict this thread will go south very fast and will be removed by Harri!

    JR

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    I'm amazed this thread has stayed appropriate. Saxophonists must be a culturally enlightened bunch. I certainly don't think the particular brand of religion matters so much in one's artistic output, but the artist's spirituality certainly does seem to become a factor. Aside from music historically being closely linked to religious practice, jazz itself has long been populated by seekers and many chose to put labels on the objects of their seeking.
    I may be wrong here, but it seems that not until the civil rights movement did we begin to see jazz artists be vocal about their religion. The themes of transcendence and surrender that are in the three paths of Abraham (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) seem to be highly relevant in the American black community as well as any artistic journey. I actually had never considered Islam's role in jazz until this thread, so that awareness has to be a good thing.

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by RandyJ View Post
    People should get things in correct context;
    I always thought Islam was a religion. But then the discussion got round to cultural aspects rather than religious aspects anyway, so I get the feeling we are, er, singing from the same hymn sheet as it were.

    And if we discuss the cultural effects on saxophone playing, I think the thread would be OK, except it might need moving to another forum.

    having said that, it would be nice to hear from any of our muslim members here.

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Well. The value of this thread is, for me, is imbedded in the mention of Shafi Hadi. I love his sound (I think he played on old Bundy or Buescher. He appears to still be alive but no mention of his presence after 1977 that I can find.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    One of the most beautiful act of faith has to be this piece “ Ishmael” by Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly Adolph Johannes “Dollar" brand) . He is a pianist and a soprano sax player. I find his soprano playing extremely inspiring and inspired.
    Yes, indeed, Ibrahim is a fantastic musician. I always think of him as a piano-player, but of course he is also an excellent saxophonist. Thanks for mentioning him.
    Bjorn

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Any christian brought up with a lot of churchgoing may well have a real feel for gospel, and likewise many jews will have plenty of cultural variables to draw on, though I must admit I don't hear a lot of jewish music obviously influencing the styles of jewish jazz or blues (or classical) saxophone players. As with say, other cultural backgrounds such as African or Caribbean.
    I agree. I think there must have been a lot of exchange of ideas between the religious and cultural environments. For instance, a lot of great jazz music is influenced by church music, gospel, a good example "A baptist beat" by Hank Mobley, but there are countless others. But on the other hand, folk music must have been influencing this church music in the first place. Similarly, in African popular music there is a lot of influence of seemingly arabic sounding elements that are related to for instance the tones that the muezzin sings from the Mosque towers. But then again, these ideas are found also in folk music from many countrie, ie the stuff related to harmonic minor scale, and non-tempered scales. Same probably goes for hindu music and Indian popular music.

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Islam is most certainly a religion!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam

    the Oxford dictionary defines it as :

    Islam |isˈläm; iz-|
    noun
    the religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah.
    • the Muslim world : the most enormous complex of fortifications in all Islam.

    These days a lot of people erroneously identify “ Islam”, which again is the name of a religion, with the culture of the countries where Islam is commonly practiced.

    In that case , common though this is, one talks inappropriately of Islamic culture of these countries because this adjective should be only used in religious related context.

    That is why there are not, strictly speaking, “ Islamic” or muslim musicians (unless we are talking of musician who play devotional music http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_music ) but there are musician of secular music who are muslim.

    One cannot be a practicing muslim and not practice Islam , you can be like for any religion , born in a certain tradition and not practice that religion.

    Indeed, in certain Islamic explanations of the scriptures, music is seen as prohibited but this are not views shared by all scholars.

    Like Pete observed most muslim musicians are converts. Converts of any religion tend to be a lot more strict that those who were born into a particular religion.

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    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by milandro View Post
    Like Pete observed most muslim musicians are converts.
    Just to clarify, I was talking about most muslim jazz/R & B musicians, not, of course, muslim musicians in general.

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    Default Re: Favorite muslim saxophone players

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Just to clarify, I was talking about most muslim jazz/R & B musicians, not, of course, muslim musicians in general.
    that’s what I meant too.... .........the majority of the jazz and blues musicians whom, from the ’50 onwards, embraced Islam weren’t born into this faith . There are of course musicians of all types born into any kind of faith

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