Jazz musician Shaib Shihab lectures at the University of Connecticut
- 1986 - 1987
Jazz saxophonist and flutist Sahib Shihab (birth name Edmund Gregory) delivered 2 lectures. He spoke on 9/9/1986 (2015-0002/RR266) and 9/1/1987 (2015-0002/RR267). Born Edmund Gregory, he changed his name to Sahib Shihab in 1946 after converting to Islam. Having an active performing and recording career in the US throughout the 1940s and 1950s, Shihab had the opportunity to play with Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, Buddy Johnson, Tadd Dameron, Lucky Thompson, Dizzy Gillespie, Illinois Jacquet, Roy Haynes, Howard McGhee, John Coltrane, Oscar Pettiford, Dinah Washington, and Cat Anderson.
Following a European tour with Quincy Jones in 1959, other than an extended stay in Los Angeles from 1973-1976, Shihab stayed in Europe until the mid-1980s, settling in Copenhagen in 1963. While there, Shihab played with the Clark-Boland Big Band, Radiojazzgruppen, Ernie Wilkins, Don Cherry, George Gruntz, Henri Texier, Daniel Humair, and Art Farmer. In addition, Shihab composed a jazz ballet based on Hans Christian Anderson’s folk tale, The Red Shoes, in 1965, and was co-owner and co-producer of the record label, Matrix.
Shahib returned to the U.S. in 1986 to record and perform with Charlie Rouse and Jay McShann.
Biographical / Historical
Edmund Gregory was born in Savannah, Georgia, and first played alto saxophone professionally for Luther Henderson at age 13, and studied at the Boston Conservatory, and to perform 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 to Sahib Shihab. 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 the baritone saxophone.
On August 12, 1958, Shihab was one of the musicians photographed by Art Kane in his 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 the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, The Red Shoes.
In Denmark, Shihab performed with local musicians such as the 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 musician for rock and pop artists and 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. He also led his own jazz combo called Dues.
From 1986, Shihab was a visiting artist at Rutgers University.
Shihab died on October 24, 1989, in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, at the age of 64.
2 Reels (Magnetic tape audio recordings) : RR 266 1 reel, Side A-1:05:45, Side B-0:22:10; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester. The recordings were combined for ease of listening. The combined run time of the digital recording is 1:27:50. RR 267 1 reel, 1:28:10; tape speed 3¾ IPS; track position ½-Track Mono; Substrate: Polyester.
Existence and Location of Originals
Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.
- African American educators Subject Source: Fast
- African American jazz musicians Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans in popular culture Subject Source: Fast
- African Americans in the performing arts Subject Source: Fast
- Black Experience in the Arts Course (University of Connecticut) -- Sound recordings Subject Source: Local sources
- Flute players Subject Source: Fast
- Saxophonists Subject Source: Fast