Thursday, July 10, 2008

R.I.P. Salah Ragab

Allah yarhamu. I just got word (via the Sun Ra list), of the death of Salah Ragab. Here's what Ragab's collaborator Hartmut Geerken wrote:

Salah Ragab, drummer and founder - together with Hartmut Geerken and Edu Vizvari - of the first Egyptian jazz-bigband, died beginning of July in Cairo, aged 72.

Since his introduction to Jazz by Malik Osman Karim Yaqoub alias Mac X Spears in the early 1960, Salah Ragab performed with many important American and European jazz musicians. His collaboration with Sun Ra in the 1980 marked a significant time in his artistic life. As composer and bigband leader he introduced Arabic harmonies and rhythms to jazz.

(The Sun Ra Arkestra meets Salah Ragab in Egypt, Leo Records GY.
Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band present Egyptian Jazz, Art Yard LP 006. (For a good review, go here. Hopefully this album will soon be out on CD as well.)

Sun Rise in Egypt. Sun Ra & Salah Ragab, the Historic Nights & Concerts of the Arkestra in Cairo Egypt 1984, Vol. I - III, Sphinx Records ECD 25735)

I only own The Sun Ra Arkestra meets Salah Ragab in Egypt, which is a great album, and the tracks featuring Salah Ragab and the Cairo Jazz Band really swing. Salah Ragab was one of the few non-USers to perform with the Sun Ra Arkestra. If memory serves, I believe that the only other was Talvin Singh.

Check out this video (composed of stills) of Salah Ragab and Sun Ra, set to the tune, "Egypt Strut":

And this one, with black-and-white footage of Sun Ra and his Arkestra, fully costumed, frolicking at the site of the Great Pyramids, Giza, Egypt:

Addendum, July 11: Here's a good bio of Salah Ragab by Joslyn Layne, on

1 comment:

Mike Khoury said...


Thanks for writing such thoughtful words. Salah will surely be missed. He did have a couple of other titles available.