Sahib Shihab

Sahib Shihab
Background information
Birth name Edmund Gregory
Born (1925-06-23)23 June 1925
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
Died 24 October 1989(1989-10-24) (aged 64)
Nashville, Tennessee
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Saxophone
Years active 1940s–1980s
Associated acts Gene Quill, Phil Woods, Hal Stein, Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band

Sahib Shihab (born Edmund Gregory; 23 June 1925, Savannah, Georgia 24 October 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, and Dizzy Gillespie amongst others.[1]


He 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 for the Lp 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 getting disillusioned with racial politics in United States and ultimately settled in Scandinavia. He worked for Copenhagen Polytechnic and wrote scores for television, cinema and theatre.

In 1961, he joined the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band and remained a key figure in the band for the 12 years it existed. He married a Danish woman and raised a family in Europe, although he remained a conscious African-American still sensitive to racial issues.

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 doing some copy writing for local musicians. He spent his remaining years between New York and Europe and played in a partnership with Art Farmer.[3]

From 1985-86, Shihab was a visiting artist at Rutgers University. [4]

Shihab died 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 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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