Ameen Muhammad, a Chicago-based trumpeter and member of the city’s the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), died Thurs., Feb. 27 at his home in Chicago’s South Side. The cause of death was a heart attack. He was 48.
Born Curtis Chapman in Mississippi, Muhammad grew up in Chicago, a member of a family that valued education. That value stuck with Muhammad throughout his life. He organized many jazz-in-the-schools programs to enlighten children on the meaning and value of jazz.
“My primary purpose is to impart cultural information to these young people, to give them a sense of hope and aspiration,” Muhammad once said. “And I believe that can be done through music.”
On the trumpet, Muhammad had a strong tone and a spiritual style that came out of Lester Bowie. His compositions were innovative, always on the edge of Chicago’s avant-garde scene. Muhammad played Chicago clubs like the Velvet Lounge and the HotHouse, and he toured around the world with fellow AACM members like Earnest Dawkins and Edward Wilkerson Jr.
Muhammad never released an album with him as the leader, but his playing can be heard on Dawkins’ Chicago Now, Vol. 2 (Silkheart, 1994) and on the recent Miyumi Project Big Band’s recording Rooted: Origins of Now (Southport, 2002).
Muhammad is survived by his mother, a daughter, a son and two grandchildren. A funeral service was held Wednesday morning at Gatlings Funeral Home in Chicago.