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Ameen Muhammad

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Chicago jazz trumpeter Ameen Muhammad died suddenly of a heart attack at 48. He is featured on the forthcoming Ernest Dawkin’s New Horizons Ensemble CD Cape Town Shuffle on Delmark Records, which ranges expertly far and wide across the musical roots of the African America: from South Side Chicago to New Orleans to the deep atavistic grooves of South Africa (not yet on Amazon).

In addition to being a notable performer and composer, Muhammad was an educator. Chicago Tribune critic Howard Reich mourns him:

    For more than two decades, Chicago trumpeter-composer Ameen Muhammad was a dynamic force in the city’s avant-garde music scene and an indefatigable educator who taught thousands of schoolchildren the meaning and value of jazz.

    With his clarion trumpet, his larger-than-life stage presence and his knack for creating boldly innovative compositions, Mr. Muhammad was a center of gravity in such Chicago clubs as the Velvet Lounge and HotHouse, and in concert halls and jazz festivals around the world.

    To audiences as far afield as South Africa, where he appeared with Ernest Khabeer Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble, Mr. Muhammad came to symbolize the boldest facets of Chicago jazz. He also championed one of the city’s most widely admired musical organizations, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).

    ….”We’re all kind of numb, because we never imagined losing Ameen,” said Douglas Ewart, another AACM artist who had known Mr. Muhammad for nearly 30 years.

    “This is especially painful because he was blossoming so beautifully in these last few years.

    “Though he came from `the Bowie school,'” added Ewart, referring to the influence of the late AACM trumpeter-bandleader Lester Bowie, “Ameen was developing a powerful musical voice and style of his own.”

    ….”My primary purpose is to impart cultural information to these young people, to give them a sense of hope and aspiration,” said Mr. Muhammad. “And I believe that can be done through music.”

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