Why saxophonist Yahya Abdul-Majid’s playing was important for Jazz Evolution

Evolution of improvised music isn’t just the purview of well-known innovators. Every musician with new ideas contributes to the sounds, and Capital Bop’s Luke Stewart profiles one such player who died recently. Tenor saxophonist Yahya Abdul-Majid impressed many listeners the few times he gigged in New York during the 1980s with drummer Jackson Krall ’s Secret Music Society, bassist William Parker’s groups and when he formed a close working relationship with drummer Denis Charles. But most of the time from the 1970s until he died Abdul-Majid stuck close to his Washington D.C. home base where his powerful yet mystical style was showcased in small clubs along with the sounds of the city’s few other advanced players. Most of his other out-of-town jobs which led to his highest profile, were with the Sun Ra Arkestra. Abdul-Majid  had briefly been an Arkestra  members when the keyboardist/composer was still alive; he then rejoined the band and stayed with it on-and-off from 1997 to 2018 as it subsequently evolved under the leadership of alto saxophonist Marshall Allen. Although he rarely recorded or led his own groups,f his associates insist that Abdul-Majid’s inspired playing will long be fondly remembered.