Jazz Messengers

Fred Patterson, the archivist at the ARChive of Contemporary Music, is doing a essay/research project called “Jazz Messengers” for the Muslim World Music Day. The title is taken from a 1950’s group put together by Talib Dawood, a seventeen piece big band composed entirely of Muslim musicians called “The Messengers.” Members included Yusuf Lateef, Sahib Shihab, Ahmed Jamal and McCoy Tyner. Later one member, Art Blakey, kept a core together as his “Jazz Messengers.”

Here’s an informative passage from Muslim Voices in America: The Making of a Modern Music Scene by Hussein Rashid, Hofstra University, “In the mid-20th century, Islam was identified as much with a Black political identity as it was a religion. It was consciously part of the African-American experience once more, and had a deep impact on the jazz world. Dizzy Gilliespie’s biography, To Be or not to Bop, is littered with references to his musical peers who were Muslim, or admit to being influenced by Islam.”

So this is the starting point. Here is a link to a list of Muslim Names in Jazz compiled by Michael Fitzgerald (ended 2005). Below is a initial list of Muslim-American Jazz musicians we have identified and are building discographies for based on holding at the ARC. We hope other will correct our work and contribute to this list and the forthcoming discography. This data will later be rolled into the massive discography of Islamic music that will be at the core of Muslim World Music Day.


Artist’s professional name is in bold, and is usually a link to a source document.

Abrams, Muhal Richard
(birth name ?)

Abdul-Malik, Ahmed
(Sudanese descent, no name change)
bass, oud

Barrymore, Alfonso
Talib Ahmed Dawud (Dawood)

Was born in the West Indies but operated in U.S.

Bishop, Walter, Jr.
Ibrahim Ibn Ismail

Blakey, Art
Abdullah Ibn Buhaina)

Byard, John (Jaki)
Jamil Bashir
piano, trumpet, saxophone

Clarke, Kenny
Liaquat Ali Salaam

Ted Curson
(Muslim name ?)

Dixon, Ben
Qaadir Almubeen Muhammad

Fournier, Vernel Anthony
Amir Rushdan

Graham, Leonard
Idrees Sulieman


Gregory, Edmund
Sahib Shihab

also see…

Greenlee, Charles
Harneefan Mageed
also see…

Gryce Jr., George General (Gigi)
Basheer Qusim

Omar Hakim
(only Muslim name)

Billy Higgins
(Muslim name ?)
also see…

Hope, Lynn
El Hajj Abdullah Rasheed

Huddleston, William Emanuel
Yusef Lateef

saxophone, flute

Jones III, Charles
Olu Dara

trumpet, vocal

Jones, Frederick Russell (Fritz)
Ahmad Jamal


McDaniel, Rudy
Jamaaladeen Tacuma

bass guitar

McIntyre, Maurice
Kalaparusha Ahra Difda

Jackie McLean
Omar Ahmed Abdul Kariem

Frank Morgan
(Muslim name?)
see also…

Morris, Leo
Idris Muhammad


Patterson, Robert
Rashied Ali


Patterson, Raymond
Muhammad Ali


Powell, Rudolph (Rudy)
Musheed Karween

Smith, Leo
Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith


Staton, Dakota
Aliyah Rabia

Argonne Thornton
Sadik Hakim


Tyner, Alfred Mcoy
Sulaimon Saud

Ulmer, James Blood
Damu Mustafa Abdul Musawwir

Williams, Pinky
Aleem Kareem

Young, Larry
Khalid Yasin

Some folks we’re looking into :
Ted Curson trumpet
Jimmy Heath saxophone

Further reading and sources :
Muslim Roots of the Blues by Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, August 15, 2004

Dizzy Gillespie on Muslim musicians

Malik, the Meccan Warrior, has also posted a list of Muslim musicians



  1. Mr WordPress said,

    September 10, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Hi, this is a comment.
    To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.

  2. bgeorge said,

    September 11, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    If you would like to add a person’s name, you may do so here in the comments section.

    Please give the professional name (the name the musician used when releasing recordings or playing live shows) as well as the given name or Muslim name, if it is not the same.

    Also, please cite your source of information (ie, website, LP jacket, magazine article, book or if you are the person in question). Thanks.

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