Ahmed Abdullah

Abdullah Ahmed [Leroy Bland] was a trumpeter and composer, born Harlem, NY on 10 May 1947. His father, Lubia Bland, died 10/16/92. His mother, Anna Townes Bland, died 3/29/92. He was survived by his three sisters: Marilyn (Lorraine), Helen (Henry). Mother Anna Bland, died 3/29/92. Abdullah started playing the trumpet when he was 13-14 years old. This was in response to the death of his older sister Marilyn. She was instrumental in introducing him music. Music seemed to be the only way to deal with the devastating effects of his sister’s death and other family changes. His family moved to Manhattan’s Lower East Side when he was 16. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, Queens College, and Kingsborough Community College. At age 18 changed his name to Ahmed Abdullah due to Malcolm X’s influence and a brief conversion into Islam. Privately studied trumpet technique with Carmine Caruso and James Stubbs. Cal Massey taught composition. From 1968-1972, his first professional performing experience was with The Master Brotherhood (Joe Rigby and Arthur Williams, Les Walkers, Joe Falcon, Joe Reid, Steve Reid, Mustafa Abdul Rahim), Cliff Driver (1972) also had him working with the Ram Rods (1972), backing up singers such as Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett, and Little Johnny Taylor. Joe Simon and Lonnie Youngblood were his co-workers. He was a founding member in the group known as the Melodic Artet 1970-1974 (Charles Brackeen Ronnie Boykins William Parker and Roger Blank). Abdullah formed his own group in 1972. The Melodic Artet opened Sam Rivers Studio Rivbea in 1972 during the New York Musicians Festival. Abdullah and the Melodic Artset both participated in the 1973 New York Musicians Festival, which was held at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. He met Sun Ra through the Artet’s members. He joined the Sun Ra Arkestra from April 1975 to perform at various events, such as the Antibes Jazz Festival and the Lugano Jazz Festival. Also, performances in Canada at the Festival of Arts and Culture in Lagos, Nigeria (1977), Carnegie Hall, Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival and the Strand Theater in Key West Florida. He worked in 1993-1997 on the Arkestra’s reorganization after Ra’s passing. As musical director, he worked alongside Dianne Mcintyre, choreographer and dancer (1973-1983). As a sideman, he also worked briefly alongside Sam Rivers (touring in 1977), Hamiett Bluiett, and Rashied Ali. He worked in 1979 with Ed Blackwell. From April to August 1991, he was back with them again, playing gigs at the Village Vanguard, Northsea Jazz Festival, as well as the New Orleans and Montreal festivals. He founded the group New Dimensions in Music in 1982 with Kalaparusha and Sirone. He founded The Group in 1986 with Marion Brown and Billy Bang. Andrew Cyrille Ahmed Abdullah was also involved. The Group performed at least one European tour, as well as quite a few gigs on the Eastern seaboard. He also founded the Solomonic Unit in 1987 with Charles Moffett. They toured the US, Europe and the United States. In 1989, the National Endowment for the Arts funded them to tour for the Arts America program at the US Information Agency. He formed a sextet of Moffett, Carlos Ward and Billy Bang as well as Fred Hopkins or John Ore as bass, while he was working on the Carnegie Hall Shelter Concert Series. The Solomonic Sextet made a tour through the USIA, Yugoslavia and Greece in October 1991. They also performed at the Sofia Jazz Days in Sofia Bulgaria. The group also filmed the Skopje Jazz Festival for national television. The Dmitria Festival was an international festival of arts in Thessaloniki Greece. Abdullah received a medal from the mayor of the city. The band performed a double bill in Istanbul Turkey with Max Roach, to launch the first festival of modern Jazz Turkey. He took the Solomonic Sextet with him to Germany in October 1992 and performed at Leverkreusen Jazz festival. This performance was shown on television in Germany and Hollanf. The name of the Solomonic was changed from Diaspora to Moffett’s death on February 14, 1997. He has been a teacher at Carnegie Hall since 1988, and a lecturer in music at the Orchestra of St. Luke since 1993. He has been a lecturer for Young Audiences since 1980, and worked with Mickey Davidson (dancer/choreographer). He formed the Sun Ra All-Star Project in 1998 and performed at both the Northsea Jazz Festival (now Montreux Detroit) and the Northsea Jazz Festival (now Montreux Detroit). He was also Music Director at Sistas’ place in Brooklyn that year. He was instrumental in the formation of the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, which hosted annual Jazz festivals in Brooklyn. In 1999, he also co-founded NAM (Alex Harding Masa Kamaguchi, Jimmy Weinstein). NAM toured Spain and Portugal in 2000. He also expanded his Carnegie Hall teaching recorder work to elementary school students in 2000. On February 16, 2001, he presented a tribute to Max Roach at Roach’s childhood church, The Concord Baptist Church of Christ. He also accepted a New School University position teaching a Sun Ra Ensemble and was awarded a grant by the NYSCA as well as the Aaron Copland Fond to record and produce the Sun Ra All-Star Project. Rashid and Shahid, twin sons of Ahmed Abdullah Taylor and Iyabode (who passed away March 29,1993) were born June 6, 1977. In 1992, he married Monique Ngozi Nri (poet, journalist, administrator) and they had a daughter Tara Abdullah Nri in September 2001. He has been practicing Buddhism since 1990. http://www.jazz.com

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