Idris Muhammad was born Leo Morris in New Orleans on November 13, 1939, into an extremely musical family (he had three brothers that were also drummers). Idris began his career very early with his first gig at ten years old, and he was playing professionally by junior high school. After he finished high school Idris joined an incredible music scene in New Orleans where he became a much sought after session drummer. He recorded and toured with Larry Williams, Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, and the Impressions. Idris, however, became restless in the straight ahead drumming of the R&B of the time, and after listening to album after album of John Coltrane he was inspired to experiment with other forms of music. He moved to New York in the late '60s to pursue a jazz career and found most jazz musicians hostile towards R&B. He could hold his own playing straight jazz, so he worked a lot and slowly added New Orleans and Soul rhythms into the music. It wasn't before long that ardent critics of R&B such as Lou Donaldson were requesting Idris and his funky beats. Idris' style slowly became the fashionable rhythm, and eventually Lou Donaldson (who he toured with for three years), Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, and Charles Earland were calling him their favorite drummer, and using him for every session. Idris Muhammad was on many seminal recordings of this time on Blue Note, Prestige, etc., and one can almost trace the transformation of modern jazz to soul jazz through his session recording alone.
Idris began his solo career with the Prestige record label for which he recorded three excellent records: Black Rhythm Revolution (which really was just that, some of the funkiest jazz ever heard on record up until then), Talk That Talk and Peace and Rhythm. In 1974 he switched labels and recorded four solo records for Kudu of which Power of Soul and Turn This Mutha Out are particularly great records. When Kudu went defunct so did Idris, and he recorded several mediocre disco records for more commercial labels. Luckily, he regained his senses in the '80s and recorded some excellent modern jazz records on the Teresa label with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders. Idris still records and tours to this day, still a vibrant part of today's jazz scene.
Idris Muhammad's Classic Jazz-Funk Recordings:
Black Rhythm Revolution (Prestige)
Peace and Rhythm (Prestige)
Talk That Talk (Prestige)
Power of Soul (Kudu 17)
House of the Rising Sun (Kudu 27)
Turn This Mutha Out (Kudu 34)
Boogie to the Top (Kudu 38)
Classics That Feature the Drumming of Idris Muhammad:
Grant Green - every Blue Note from 1967-1971; and Main Attraction (Kudu)
Lou Donaldson - every Blue Note from 1967-1971, including some of the most sampled jazz drum loops of all time: Pot Belly and Ode to Billie Joe
Early seventies Prestige records by Melvin Sparks, Gene Ammons, Sonny Stitt, Leon Spencer and Charles Earland.
Eastbound records by Melvin Sparks, Bill Mason, and Gary Chandler.