Abdullah, Ahmed [Bland, Leroy ]
- Gary W. Kennedy
(b New York, May 10, 1947). American trumpeter and leader. He began on trumpet at the age of 13, studying formally while in college. In the 1960s he took up Islam and adopted his Muslim name. After working briefly with the Master Brotherhood he toured with rhythm-and-blues bands. In 1972 he formed his group Abdullah, which often included Vincent Chancey, and worked as music director for the dancer Diane McIntyre (1973–83). Having been involved with Sam Rivers’s Studio Rivbea from 1972, he appeared at the studio’s opening with the group Melodic Art-tette, with Charles Brackeen, Ronnie Boykins, and Roger Blank. Most notably he performed and recorded with Sun Ra’s Arkestra from 1975 until 1978, and again regularly from c1988, continuing with the band after the leader’s death in 1992.
Abdullah worked as a sideman with Rivers’s big band (1977–8), Hamiet Bluiett, Arthur Blythe (1977), Billy Bang, and Rashied Ali (1977–8). He toured and recorded with Ed Blackwell (1979–1980; 1991), and together with Marion Brown, Bang, Sirone (or Fred Hopkins), and Andrew Cyrille as a member of a cooperative, the Group, which performed in Europe and the USA (1986). In 1987 he formed his Solomonic Unit. Originally a quartet, it recorded as a quintet that year, then expanded to a sextet in the late 1980s to early 1990s; among its members were Carlos Ward, Bang, the electric guitarist Masujaa, Hopkins or John Ore, and Charles Moffett. In 1991 Abdullah toured Eastern Europe as a representative of the US Information Agency. An appearance at the Leverkreusen (Germany) Jazz Festival in 1992 was broadcast on television in Germany and the Netherlands. After Moffett’s death in February 1997 Abdullah renamed his band Diaspora. He has also worked as a concert promoter, as a teacher, and in collaboration with the dancer Mickey Davidson.
on [various artists]: Wildflowers, iii: The New York City Loft Sessions (1976, Douglas 7047), Blue Phase; Liquid Magic (1987, Silkheart 104); Ahmed Abdullah and the Solomonic Quintet (1987, Silkheart 109)
B. Bang: The Fire from Within (1984, SN 1086)
- A. J. Smith: “Profile: Ahmed Abdullah,” DB, 45/8 (1978), 36
- B. Rusch: “Ahmed Abdullah: Interview,” Cadence, 7/9 (1981), 5
- P. Carles, A. Clergeat, and J.-L. Comolli: Dictionnaire du jazz (Paris, 1988, rev. and enlarged 2/1994)
- R. L. Campbell: The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (Redwood, NY, 1994) [discography]
- H. Geerken and B. Hefele: Omniverse Sun Ra (Wartaweil, Germany, 1994)