Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Faruq Z. Bey, RIP

Faruq Z. Bey was never exactly a household name. As a composer and player of jazz music that is not at all surprising.

He died recently at the age of 70. I had not seen him play in a lot of years, but back in the 1980s I saw him play a lot.

I saw him most often with Griot Galaxy, a Detroit-based band he founded in the early 1970s. I think it's fair to say Griot Galaxy was in the mold of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, although such comparisons are always risky.

The Griots went through a number of lineups over the years. What I most saw was Faruq on tenor, with David McMurray also on tenor, Tony Holland alto, Jaribu Shahid bass, and Tani Tabbal drums.

They released two albums in this lineup: Kins and Opus Krampus. They're also on two tracks of the Montreux-Detroit Collection, Vol. 3.

These albums are on vinyl. A year or so back a friend of mine digitized them, and it's on my iPod. I'm listening to it as I write this: a tune called "Fosters," a humorous, drunken blues, on the Montreux-Detroit Collection.

Faruq also founded a band called Synchron, with whom tenor man James Carter often played as he established himself as one of the pre-eminent players of his generation. More recently, Faruq performed with an outfit called Northwoods Improvisers.

His obituary appeared in the Metro Times, an alternative weekly in Detroit.

I carry this vivid image in my head: Faruq Z. Bey onstage, standing like an oak tree as he takes a solo.

I gathered up some of my pictures and copied them into a video program, and used the aforementioned "Fosters" as the soundtrack. It's the tiniest of homages to Faruq Z. Bey.

1 comment:

  1. The Griots went through a number of lineups over the years