Behold Idris Muhammad. One of the most iconic and instrumental Jazz drummers of all time. Described as a ‘Person in the purest form’ and being ‘the syncopation of New Orleans’, the illustrious percussionist has ensured that his sound rattles through every aspect of any genre lucky enough. His beauty in rhythm chimes across funk, jazz, bebop, samba and soul. Like most multi-talented musicians, Muhammad often merges genres to create countless musical spectacles that have the tendency to blow away his listeners, time after time. Born as Leo Morris in New Orleans, the drummer started his career at sixteen and the rest was history. Again, like most great Jazz musicians, Muhammad started his career as a sideman with many greats. His mind-blowing rhythm and ear for percussion ensure that his talent was soon in hot demand from legends all across the jazz scene. Some of those included George Benson, Paul Desmond, Bobby Humphrey and most famously, Pharaoh Sanders, who Muhammad worked with throughout the majority of his career. He found his feet in music, quicker than most. His feet in life however, were found later on when the musician converted to Islam. This conversion led to a change in name and his conversion also reflected in his music whilst it still possessed that funky, New Orleans flair. This amalgamation of peace found in Islam and Funk found in the streets makes Idris Muhammad’s sound something unbelievably unique.
The maestro’s discography provides a sea of musical depth and one that invites everyone to come and test the water. Some of his famous works include ‘Power and Soul’, ‘Peace and Rhythm’ and ‘Turn This Mutha Out’. The track of the week however, derives from a completely different album all together. ‘Hard To Face The Music’ features on the 1976 album ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’. Majority of Muhammad’s albums were released on Kudu records, a unique and influential Soul-Jazz label which was ran by producer Creed Taylor. This album is staple evidence of why Idris Muhammed was the best Jazz-Soul and Jazz-Funk drummer of all time. The top notch record exemplifies the drummer’s eclectic abilities as he drums through the spheres of multiple genres. For me, the standout track is ‘Hard To Face The Music’, although it’s downright hard to pick a favourite. Described best as being a “Stunningly funky groove”, the clean cut, fresh, smooth and sharp song has everything a Jazz-Funk classic would ever need. It has rasping horns, slick guitar and riveting bass. However, for me, nothing stands out quite like the drums. Behind all the other sounds, yet still boldly at the front, you can hear Idris Muhammad rolling, drumming and orchestrating the rhythm of the groove. Controlling, playing and teasing the audience like a musical master of puppetry.
If your ears are yet to be blessed the majesty of Idris Muhammed’s powerful funky and jazz-filled sound, one part of me is envious that you get to have your mind blown upon hearing, however, this isn’t anything out of the ordinary. The reason Idris Muhammad is as revered as he is bottles down to one simple fact, every one of his songs can and will blow your mind. Brace yourself.
Listen & enjoy here –