Sahib Shihab

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Sahib Shihab
Background information
Birth nameEdmund Gregory
Born(1925-06-23)June 23, 1925
Savannah, Georgia, U.S.
DiedOctober 24, 1989(1989-10-24) (aged 64)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Instrument(s)Baritone, soprano and alto saxophone, Flute and alto flute
Years active1940s–1980s

Sahib Shihab (born Edmund Gregory; June 23, 1925 – October 24, 1989) was an American jazz and hard bop saxophonist (baritone, alto, and soprano) and flautist. He variously worked with Luther Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Fletcher Henderson, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, John Coltrane and Quincy Jones among others.[1]


He was born in Savannah, Georgia, United States.[2] Edmund Gregory first played alto saxophone professionally for Luther Henderson aged 13,[3] and studied at the Boston Conservatory,[4] and to perform with trumpeter Roy Eldridge.[2] He played lead alto with Fletcher Henderson in the mid-1940s.[2]

He was one of the first jazz musicians to convert to Islam and changed his name in 1947.[2] He belonged to the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam.[5] During the late 1940s, Shihab played with Thelonious Monk,[2] and on July 23, 1951 he recorded with Monk (later issued on the album Genius of Modern Music: Volume 2).[6] During this period, he also appeared on recordings by Art Blakey, Kenny Dorham and Benny Golson.[2] 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 baritone.[2]

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.[2] Shihab, disillusioned with racial politics in United States, decided around this time to move to Europe. He settled in Scandinavia, first in Stockholm, Sweden, then moving in 1964 to Copenhagen, Denmark.[4] 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.[2]

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.[2] 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 stay, working as a session musician for rock and pop artists and working as a copyist for local musicians. He spent his remaining years between New York and Copenhagen, and played in a partnership with Art Farmer.[7] He also led his own jazz combo called Dues.

From 1986, Shihab was a visiting artist at Rutgers University.[8]

Shihab died from liver cancer on October 24, 1989, in Nashville, Tennessee, United States, aged 64.[1]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Art Blakey

With Brass Fever

With Donald Byrd

With Betty Carter

With the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band

With John Coltrane

With Tadd Dameron

With Art Farmer

With Curtis Fuller and Hampton Hawes

With Dizzy Gillespie

With Benny Golson

With Johnny Griffin

  • Lady Heavy Bottom's Waltz (1968)
  • Griff 'N Bags

With George Gruntz

  • Noon in Tunisia (1967)

With Roy Haynes

With Milt Jackson

With Philly Joe Jones

With Quincy Jones

With Abbey Lincoln

With Howard McGhee

With Thelonious Monk

With Phineas Newborn, Jr.

With Oscar Pettiford

With Specs Powell

With A. K. Salim

With Tony Scott

With Mal Waldron

With Julius Watkins and Charlie Rouse

With Randy Weston

With Gene Quill, Hal Stein and Phil Woods

With Phil Woods

With Idrees Sulieman


  1. ^ a b Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club : 1980s". Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 362. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  3. ^ "Artist Profiles : Sahib Shihab: Seeds And Sentiments". 10 March 2004. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Sahib Shihab | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  5. ^ Robin D. G. Kelley (13 March 2012). Africa Speaks, America Answers: Modern Jazz in Revolutionary Times. Harvard University Press. p. 94. ISBN 9780674065246.
  6. ^ "Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 2 - Thelonious Monk | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "Sahib Shihab: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  8. ^ "JazzWax". Retrieved August 1, 2021.