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Ahmed Abdul-Malik

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Ahmed Abdul-Malik
Birth nameJonathan Tim, Jr.[1]: 92 
Born(1927-01-30)January 30, 1927
Brooklyn, New York, US
DiedOctober 2, 1993(1993-10-02) (aged 66)
Instrument(s)Double bass

Ahmed Abdul-Malik (born Jonathan Tim, Jr.; January 30, 1927 – October 2, 1993) was an American jazz double bassist and oud player.[2]

Abdul-Malik is remembered for integrating Middle Eastern and North African music styles in his jazz music.[3] He was a bass player for Art Blakey, Earl Hines, Randy Weston, and Thelonious Monk, among others.[4]

Early life


Abdul-Malik claimed that his father was from Sudan and moved to the United States. Research by historian Robin Kelley, however, indicates that Abdul-Malik was born to Caribbean immigrants and changed his birth name:

Ahmed Abdul-Malik was born Jonathan Tim Jr., (sometimes spelled "Timm") on January 30, 1927, to Matilda and Jonathan Tim Sr. – both of whom had immigrated from St. Vincent in the British West Indies three years earlier. They also had a daughter, Caroline, born a little more than a year after Jonathan Jr. Jonathan Tim Sr.'s death certificate not only confirms his birth in St. Vincent, it indicates that his father – Abdul-Malik's grandfather – James Tim, and his mother, Mary Daniels, were both from the Caribbean. City directories for Brooklyn, as well as the American Federation of Musicians Union Local 802 directory, confirm the bassist's birth name as Jonathan Tim Jr.[1]: 92 

The family lived at 545 Hopkinson Avenue, but moved to 1984 Atlantic Avenue before their son began school.[1]: 93  Jonathan, Jr. had violin lessons from his father, who was a plasterer and general laborer.[1]: 93  Aged seven, Jonathan, Jr. attended the Vardi School of Music and Art, "to continue his violin training, and over time took up piano, cello, bass, and tuba."[1]: 93  His parents divorced in the late 1930s, and he lived with his father and new wife, at 2117 Dean Street, but his father died on February 9, 1941, from a bleeding gastric ulcer.[1]: 93  Jonathan, Jr. continued studying, including having lessons with local bassist Franklin Skeete,[1]: 93  before joining The High School of Music & Art in Harlem.[5] There, "his skills on violin and viola earned him a spot in the All-City Orchestra."[1]: 93 

Later life


Abdul-Malik was most active as a jazz musician from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. He recorded half a dozen albums as leader, which have been described as containing a "refreshing" fusion of jazz with Arabic and African music.[3] During this time he was also described as "a hard bop bassist of some distinction".[3] As an oud player he did a tour of South America for the United States Department of State and performed at an African jazz festival in Morocco.[3]



As leader


As sideman


With Art Blakey

With John Coltrane

With Walt Dickerson

With Earl Hines

  • 'Fatha': The New Earl Hines Trio (1964)
  • The Real Earl Hines (1964)

With Jutta Hipp

With Odetta

With Herbie Mann

With Ken McIntyre

With Thelonious Monk

With Dave Pike

With Randy Weston


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kelley, Robin D. G. (2012), Nathan I. Huggins Lectures: Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times. Harvard University Press.
  2. ^ Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia. London: Penguin Books. pp. 1. ISBN 0-141-00646-3.
  3. ^ a b c d Kelsey, Chris "Ahmed Abdul-Malik: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Curry, John (2002). "Abdul-Malik, Ahmed". In Barry Kernfeld (ed.). The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz (2nd ed.). New York: Grove's Dictionaries Inc. p. 3. ISBN 1561592846.
  5. ^ Weston, Randy, and Willard Jenkins (2010) African Rhythms: The Autobiography of Randy Weston, p. 25. Duke University Press.