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Solo: The Trial of Tarik Shah

By now, JazzTimes readers may be familiar with the case of bassist Tarik Shah, who is awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to support al-Qaeda. It is a stretch to include Shah “among the top 1% of jazz bassists on the scene today,” as it says on his support website (tariksfriends.faithweb.com). But Shah, 43, is a mainstay of the Harlem jazz community who has worked with the likes of Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Ahmad Jamal and many others. He was initially charged in tandem with Rafiq Sabir, a 51-year-old doctor from Florida. But the current indictment has been expanded to include a total of four defendants.

Shah is formally charged in three of the indictment’s six counts. He is alleged to have “agreed to provide, among other things, martial arts training for jihadists….” He is also alleged to have conspired with Abdulrahman Farhane, 52, a Brooklyn bookseller of Moroccan origin, “to transfer money … to locations overseas to purchase weapons and communications equipment for jihadists in Afghanistan and Chechnya….” In the New York Press, Howard Mandel reported that “Shah’s jazz-world friends are mostly stunned and don’t know what to think, but believe in the premises of U.S. law”-most importantly, the presumption of innocence.

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Originally Published

David R. Adler

David R. Adler writes about jazz and assorted topics. His work has appeared in JazzTimes, NPR Music, WBGO.org, The Philadelphia InquirerThe Village Voice, DownBeat, Time Out New York, and many other publications. From 2010-2017 he taught jazz history at the Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College-CUNY). In summer 2017, after 30 years in New York (apart from two in Philadelphia), David relocated with his family to Athens, Georgia. There he continues to write about music and perform solo as a guitarist/vocalist.