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Idrees Sulieman: 1923-2002
Idrees Sulieman
Trumpet, saxophone

Born: August 27, 1923 in St Petersburg, Florida
Died: July 25, 2002 in St Petersburg, Florida

Idrees Sulieman, pioneering bebop trumpeter

Copyright © 2002 


Idrees Sulieman was an early bebop pioneer on trumpet. He was born Leonard Graham, and took up trumpet when his father could not afford to buy him a saxophone (he later played alto saxophone after moving to Europe).

He began his professional career with the Carolina Cotton Pickers in 1939. He changed his name to Idrees Dawud ibn Sulieman after his conversion to Islam. He played with Miles Davis, Charlie Byrd, Earl Hines, Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie. He recorded with Thelonious Monk on the pianist's historic first sessions as a leader for Blue Note in 1947, and also recorded with Gene Ammons, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, Dexter Gordon, Max Roach, and others.

He settled in Europe in 1961, firstly in Sweden, then in Denmark. He worked with fellow expatriates Eric Dolphy, Bud Powell and Don Byas. He was part of the excellent Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band for 10 years from 1963, and also worked with the Danish Radio Big Band under Thad Jones. He returned to the USA in 1982, and lived in his native Florida. He died from bladder cancer.

JJA members are invited to submit a full obituary or appreciation.

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With 6 reader comments, latest October 27, 2009