Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Washington, SalimMichael S. Washington

Washington, Salim [Michael S. Washington], tenor saxophone, flute, oboe, composer, educator, author; b. Memphis, TN, 8 July 1958. Grew up in Detroit, Michigan, but began playing professionally in Boston, MA. His father is Tony. S. Washington (b. 11/19/33) and his mother was Stella Jean Key Washington (7/19/37-7/8/79). His siblings are Philip (played trumpet in the Coast Guard band), Toni Ann, Vanessa, and Vikki.
Studied jazz improvisation with trumpeter, Billy Skinner. Studied saxophone with Bill Pierce and Joe Allard. Graduated with Ph.D in the History of American Civilization, from Harvard University in 2001. Wrote a dissertation, "Beautiful Nightmare: Coltrane, Jazz, and American Culture."

Leader of the Harlem Art Ensemble (since 2002), and the Roxbury Blues Aesthetic (during the 1990s). Current member of the Donald Smith Ensemble, Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora, Kuumba Frank Lacy's "Vibe Tribe," Jabbo Ware's "We, Me and Them Ensemble," Antonio Dangerfield's "Ensemble Uniqua," the "Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble," and "the Henry Cook Band."

My first long-term gig was in Roxbury, Mass. with the Worlds Experience Orchestra, under the leadership of bassist, Jamil Jones. I dropped out of school (Harvard College) in 1978 to play music with Worlds, and later moved to Louisiana to play with SOLAR, which toured in the southern states and the east coast. I moved back to Detroit, where I played with Hakim Jami, Roy Brooks, Kuumba (later named the Sun Messengers), and others. By the 1980s I moved back to Boston where I played for a decade with the Billy Skinner Double Jazz Quartet, which played in festivals throughout the states, Canada, and the UK. In the 1990s I started the Roxbury Blues Aesthetic, a nine-piece jazz group that played mostly original compositions, as well as arrangements of the works of other composers, especially Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, and Stevie Wonder.

While in Boston I began composing under commission for various groups, including the Phantom Arts Ensemble, the Flamingos, the New School, the Des Moines Symphony. I moved to New York in 2001, joining Frank Lacy's Vibe Tribe, and the music faculty at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College. He now leads the Harlem Arts Ensemble, and became a co-leader of the Creative Music Coalition. With these and other ensembles he has played throughout the USA, and in Europe, Mexico, Cuba, and Canada. He is an associate professor of music here at Brooklyn College, full-time.
His wife is Melanie D. Dyer (b. 3/26/59), who plays jazz viola. His children are Malik Washington, (b. 10/9/85) (drums, vibes), Menelik Washington, Jamila Washington, and Memphis Washington.

As a leader:
Love in Exile (1997) -A Night at St. Nick's, Salim Washington with the Donald Smith Quintet, CIMPol 5005, 2007.You Can Fly, Cadence Records, 2007. Harlem Homecoming, Salim Washington and the Harlem Arts Ensemble, Ujam 126, 2006.

As sideperson:
Makanda Project, featuring Oliver Lake, Passinthru, forthcoming 2007. Brother Soul, Carl Grubbs Quartet, CIMP #336, 2006. Eight Vignettes of Ellington, James "Jabbo" Ware, Me, We, and Them Orchestra, Y'all 005, 2005. Traveling the Spaceways. Ahmed Abdullah's Dispersions of the Spirit of Ra, Planet Arts, 100324, 2005. Live at the Archipel, Katy Roberts Septet, 2004. The Vibe, Katy Roberts Septet, 2002. The Bill Barron Project, Bill Lowe/Carl Atkins Big Band, Green Line Records, 1999 Live at Detroit Montreaux Jazz Festival, Henry Cook Band, featuring Bobby Ward, 
Accurate Records, AC-5036, 1999. The RAW Field Recordings, Paradigm Shift, Roulette Records, 010, 1999. Love in Exile, Salim Washington and  RBA, featuring Joe Bonner, on Accurate Records, AC-5028, 1997. Blue Again, Billy Skinner DJQ, on Kitty Kat Records, 1992. Kosen Rufu, Billy Skinner DJQ, Accurate Records, AC-3333, 1990.

Works By Washington:
With Farah Jasmine Griffin, Clawing at the Limits of Cool: the collaboration between Miles Davis and John Coltrane 1954-1960, St. Martin's Press. (forthcoming: 2008).

Salim Washington, "Don't Let the Devil (Make You) Lose Your Joy," forthcoming, Oxford University Press. Salim Washington, "Hurricane Katrina and the New Jazz Orthodoxy," Institute for Studies in American Music Newsletter, Volume 35, Number 1, Fall 2005. Salim Washington, "Has Katrina Blown the Wool Over our Eyes: why I disagree with the new jazz orthodoxy," published in All About Jazz, October 2005.
Salim Washington, "Thinking Jazz," REV, Institute for Studies in American Music Newsletter, Volume 33, Number 1, pp. 10, 15, 2004. Salim Washington, "All the Things You Could Be by Now: Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus and the Limits of Avant-Garde Jazz," in Uptown Conversations, pp. 27-49, Columbia University Press, 2003. Salim Washington, "Meditations on Coltrane's Legacies," Institute for Studies in American Music Newsletter, Volume 31, Number 2, pp. 1, 2, 12, 13. Salim Washington, "Of Black Bards, Known and Unknown:  Music as Racial Metaphor in James Weldon Johnson's Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, in  Callaloo, "Recent takes on Jazz Poetics," pp. 233-256, Winter 2001/2002. Salim Washington, "Responses to Phil Rubio's  'Crossover Dreams' in Noel Ignatiev and John Garvey, eds. Race Traitor , 1996.

Encyclopedia entries:
Ornette Coleman, and Sidney Bechet, in African American National Biography, eds., Evelyn Higginbotham, John Bollard, 2003.  John Coltrane, in Encyclopedia Africanus, eds., Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and K. Anthony Appiah, 1998.

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