Faruq Z. Bey

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Faruq Z. Bey
Birth name Jesse Davis
Born (1942-02-04)February 4, 1942
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Died June 1, 2012(2012-06-01) (aged 70)
Detroit, Michigan
Genres Free jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, poet
Instruments Saxophone
Associated acts Griot Galaxy

Faruq Z. Bey (born Jesse Davis, February 4, 1942 – June 1, 2012)[1] was an American jazz saxophonist and composer from Detroit, Michigan. Bey was known for his work with Griot Galaxy, which played distinct compositions, often by Bey. Odd meters and polyrhythms were a frequent feature of the group's tunes, which would give way to free sections. Originally started in 1972, Griot Galaxy settled into its most stable line-up around 1980, when Bey was joined by saxophonists David McMurray and Anthony Holland, as well as bassist Jaribu Shahid and drummer Tani Tabbal. Griot Galaxy played at the 1983 Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival (now the Detroit Jazz Festival), and toured Europe in the mid-1980s.

In the mid-1980s Bey was in a serious motorcycle accident that left him in a coma.[2] Almost a decade passed before he returned to performing. He re-emerged with an all woodwind ensemble called The Conspiracy Winds Ensemble. He began to play in Speaking in Tongues and Hakim Jami's Street Band. He joined forces with The Northwoods Improvisers, who devoted several releases to Bey's music. His frequent collaborators, saxophonists Michael Carey and Skeeter Shelton, joined him on most of the Northwoods Improviser's recordings. He also played in Kindred, a quartet with Kennith Green, Kevin Callaway and Joel Peterson, and in Odu Afrobeat Orchestra. Among Bey's last ensembles was The Absolute Tonalist Society with Carey, Peterson and drummer Kurt Prisbe.

Some of his most noted releases are Kins, Opus Krampus and Live at the DIA with Griot Galaxy, and Auzar and Ashirai Pattern with The Northwoods Improvisers. Bey published two books of poetry, Year of the Iron Sheep and Etudes in Wanton Nesses, in addition to a theoretical/aesthetic manifesto Toward a "Ratio"nal Aesthetic (1989). Bey died on June 1, 2012.[3] He had experienced long-term health issues including emphysema.[3]


  • 1981: Griot GalaxyKins (Black & White, 1982)
  • 1983: Griot Galaxy – Live at the D.I.A. (Entropy Stereo Recordings, 2003)
  • 1984: Griot Galaxy – Opus Krampus (Sound Aspects, 1985)
  • Late 1980s: Synchron (Sagittarius A-Star, 2012)
  • 2001: Northwoods Improvisers w/ Faruq Z. Bey - 19 Moons (Entropy Stereo Recordings)

2002 - Ashirai Pattern - Faruq Z Bey w/ Northwoods Improvisers (Entropy 013)

  • 2004: Faruq Z. Bey 4et – Live at the Detroit Art Space (Sagittarius A-Star, 2012)

2004 - Auzar - Faruq Z Bey w/ Northwoods Improvisers (Entropy 015)

2004 - Journey Into the Valley - DVD/CD - Faruq Z Bey w/ Northwoods Improvisers (Entropy 017)

2005 - Hymn Book of the Anciency - Faruq Z Bey poetry w/ music (Entropy/Codex 002)

  • 2005: Faruq Z. Bey with Northwoods Improvisers - Rwanda (Qbico, 2005)
  • 2006: Northwoods Improvisers w/ Faruq Z. Bey - Infa'a (Qbico, 2006)

2009 - Emerging Field - Faruq Z Bey w/ Northwoods Improvisers (Entropy 19)

  • 2010: His Name is Alive w/ Faruq Z. Bey – Silver Dragon (Silver Mountain, 2010)
  • 2011: Faruq Z. Bey w/ Northwoods Improvisers – Primal Waters (Sagittarius A-Star, 2012)


  1. ^ Nastos, Michael G. Faruq Z. Bey at AllMusic
  2. ^ Heron, W. Kim (June 25, 2003). "Musician interrupted: The story of Griot Galaxy & a renaissance for Faruq Z. Bey". Metro Times. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Heron, W. Kim (June 2, 2012). "Detroit jazz and avant scenes lose icon in passing of Faruq Z. Bey". Metro Times. Archived from the original on June 6, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012. 

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