May 23, 2024

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Idris Muhammad became known as one of the most innovative drummers in soul music of the 1960’s: Video

13.11. – Happy Birthday !!! Idris Muhammad was born on 1939, and began playing the drums at age 8 in his native New Orleans. By the time he was 16, he was performing in jazz bands.

Muhammad became known as one of the most innovative drummers in soul music of the 1960’s, performing with singers Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, and The Impressions.

He played for the popular musical Hair while performing with the house band for the Prestige Label in the early 1970’s. For the rest of that decade, he accompanied popular singer Roberta Flack, led his own band, and worked with Johnny Griffin and Pharaoh Sanders.

An excellent drummer who has appeared in many types of settings, Idris Muhammad became a professional when he was 16. He played primarily soul and R&B during 1962-1964 and then spent 1965-1967 as a member of Lou Donaldson’s band. He was the house drummer at Prestige Records (1970-1972), appearing on many albums as a sideman. Of his later jazz associations, Muhammad played with Johnny Griffin (1978-1979), Pharoah Sanders in the 1980s, George Coleman, and the Paris Reunion Band (1986-1988). He has recorded everything from post-bop to dance music as a leader for such labels as Prestige, Kudu, Fantasy, Theresa, and Lipstick.

Muhammad’s 1993 recording My Turn includes saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. and trumpetor Randy Brecker, both of whom are also featured performers in this year’s 25th Annual University of Pittsburgh Jazz Seminar and Concert.

Idris Muhammad died at age 74 – July 29, 2014. His cause of death was not immediately known, but Muhammad had been receiving dialysis since retiring to his native New Orleans in 2011.

Idris Muhammad, a drummer whose deep groove propelled both a broad career in jazz and an array of hits spanning rhythm and blues, funk and soul, died on July 29 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 74.

His death was confirmed by Dan Williams, a friend affiliated with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation. The cause was not specified.

Mr. Muhammad was a proud product of New Orleans, whose strutting parade rhythms always lurked just beneath the surface of his style. A busy sideman as early as his teenage years, he later backed Curtis Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Roberta Flack and the jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, and as a key member of the house band laid the rhythmic foundation for the original Broadway production of “Hair.”

But the heart of his work was at the intersection of jazz, R&B and funk, especially as they converged in the 1970s. He made a string of albums now prized by connoisseurs of funk, including “Power of Soul” (1974), “House of the Rising Sun” (1976) and “Turn This Mutha Out” (1977) with a supporting cast including players like the trumpeter Randy Brecker and the keyboardist Bob James.

Mr. Muhammad’s in-the-pocket backbeat also bolstered crossover efforts by the guitarists Grant Green and George Benson and the saxophonists Lou Donaldson and Grover Washington Jr. Within the last 20 years he had worked more in an acoustic mode, most prominently with the pianist Ahmad Jamal. Among the others he worked with were the guitarist John Scofield and the saxophonist Joe Lovano, who once honored him with a tune titled “Idris.”

He was born Leo Morris on Nov. 13, 1939, in New Orleans. His father played banjo, and four of his siblings were drummers. Naturally drawn to the sound of Mardi Gras parade bands, he found his calling with no formal training. He was 15 when he played on Art Neville and the Hawketts’ enduring 1954 recording of “Mardi Gras Mambo,” and not much older when he appeared on Fats Domino’s hit version of “Blueberry Hill.”

In 1966 he married Delores Brooks, lead singer for the Crystals, a girl group with a string of pop hits, including “Da Doo Ron Ron.” The couple converted to Islam, changing their names to Idris and Sakinah Muhammad, and lived in London and Vienna before their marriage ended in divorce in 1999. They had two sons and two daughters; he also had a daughter from a previous marriage, to the former Gracie Lee Edwards.

Mr. Muhammad was widely sampled by hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, Lupe Fiasco and Drake. The Beastie Boys album “Paul’s Boutique” opens with a lengthy sample of “Loran’s Dance,” from “The Power of Soul.” Asked in an interview how he felt about other people using his music, he told Wax Poetics magazine, “It don’t really belong to me, man,” adding: “The gift the Creator has given me, I can’t be selfish with. If I keep it in my pocket, it’s not going to go anyplace.”

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