Idris Muhammad's Powerful Soul Drumming Finally Stilled

Idris Muhammad Passes Away

Idris Muhammad, legendary New Orleans drummer who held the drum chair for Ahmad Jamal for two decades and had an impact in styles as diverse as acid jazz, hip-hop, funk, pop, and traditional jazz, passed away Tuesday July 29, 2014.

Idris was one of the greats of New Orleans drumming, a club that includes Herlin Riley, Ed Blackwell, Zigaboo Modeliste, Johnny Vidacovich, and other innovators of jazz and funk. Muhammad, who was born as Leo Morris November 13, 1939, converted to Islam in the mid-‘60s. He once said that after that his drumming career and everything else in life fell into place. He married Dolores “LaLa” Brooks, who had been a member of the Crystals, in 1966. They had two children.

Muhammad will be greatly remembered for his role in the development of soul jazz playing on records by artists such as Lou Donaldson. His solo records such as 1974’s Power of Soul or 1998’s Right Now, reveal his command of a stripped-down, soulful, funky, and rock-solid metronomic style that was widely sampled and widely copied. He also played with a broad range of pop and jazz stars from Roberta Flack to Sam Cooke, to Pharaoh Sanders. He played on hundreds of recordings from jazz classics to pop hits such as the Dixie Cups "Chapel of Love." He got his start as a sixteen-year old when he recorded with Randy Weston in 1955 and continued playing right through this decade

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