Sahib Shihab

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Sahib Shihab
Sahib Shihab.jpg
Background information
Birth nameEdmund Gregory
Born(1925-06-23)June 23, 1925
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
DiedOctober 24, 1989(1989-10-24) (aged 64)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Baritone, soprano and alto saxophone, Flute and alto flute
Years active1940s–1980s
Associated acts Gene Quill, Phil Woods, Hal Stein, Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band

Sahib Shihab (born Edmund Gregory; June 23, 1925, Savannah, Georgia October 24, 1989, Nashville, Tennessee) was an American jazz and hard bop saxophonist (baritone, alto, and soprano) and flautist. He variously worked with Luther Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Fletcher Henderson, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, John Coltrane and Quincy Jones among others. [1]



Edmund Gregory first played alto saxophone professionally for Luther Henderson at age 13 [2] and went on to study at the Boston Conservatory and to play with trumpeter Roy Eldridge. He played lead alto with Fletcher Henderson in the mid 1940s.

He was one of the first jazz musicians to convert to Islam and changed his name in 1947. During the late 1940s, Shihab played with Thelonious Monk and on July 23, 1951 he recorded with Monk (later issued on the album Genius of Modern Music: Volume 2 . During this period, he also appeared on recordings by Art Blakey, Kenny Dorham and Benny Golson. The invitation to play with Dizzy Gillespie's big band in the early 1950s was of particular significance as it marked Shihab's switch to baritone.

On August 12, 1958, Shihab was one of the musicians photographed by Art Kane in his famous photograph known as "A Great Day in Harlem". In 1959, he toured Europe with Quincy Jones after becoming disillusioned with racial politics in United States and ultimately settled in Scandinavia, first in Stockholm, Sweden and from 1964 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He worked for Copenhagen Polytechnic and wrote scores for television, cinema and theatre. He wrote a ballet based on danish writer Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Red Shoes .

In Denmark, Shihab played with local musicians like bass player Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen amongst others. Together with pianist Kenny Drew, he ran a publishing firm and record company.

In 1961, he joined the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band and remained a member of the band for the 12 years it existed. He married a Danish woman and raised a family in Europe.

In the Eurovision Song Contest 1966, Shihab accompanied Lill Lindfors and Svante Thuresson on stage for the Swedish entry "Nygammal Vals".

In 1973, Shihab returned to the United States for a three-year hiatus, working as a session man for rock and pop artists and also undertaking work as a copyist for local musicians. He spent his remaining years between New York and Copenhagen and played in a partnership with Art Farmer. [3] He also led his own jazz combo called "Dues".

From 1986, Shihab was a visiting artist at Rutgers University. [4]

Shihab died from liver cancer on October 24, 1989, in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, aged 64. [1]


As leader

As sideman

With Art Blakey

With Brass Fever

With Donald Byrd

With Betty Carter

With the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band

With John Coltrane

With Tadd Dameron

With Art Farmer

With Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Benny Golson

With Johnny Griffin

With George Gruntz

With Roy Haynes

With Milt Jackson

With Philly Joe Jones

With Quincy Jones

With Abbey Lincoln

With Howard McGhee

With Thelonious Monk

With Phineas Newborn, Jr.

With Oscar Pettiford

With Specs Powell

With A. K. Salim

With Tony Scott

With Mal Waldron

With Julius Watkins and Charlie Rouse

With Randy Weston

With Gene Quill, Hal Stein and Phil Woods

With Phil Woods

With Idrees Sulieman

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  1. 1 2 Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club : 1980s". Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  2. "Artist Profiles : Sahib Shihab: Seeds And Sentiments". Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  3. "Sahib Shihab: Biography". AllMusic . Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  4. [ dead link ]