James Mtume, the multi-instrumentalist who performed with Miles Davis before R&B group Mtume was formed, has died at the age of 76, Pitchfork reports. No cause of death was disclosed.
The son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, James Mtume (born James Heath Jr.) grew up in a musical environment. He was raised by his mother, Bertha Forman, and pianist James “Hen Gates” Forman, who played in Charlie Parker’s band and introduced Mtume to the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Sonny Rollins.
In 1969, Mtume took percussion on his uncle Albert “Tootie” Heath album Usually, also featuring Jimmy Heath, Don Cherry, and Herbie Hancock. A member of the Black empowerment collective US Organization, Mtume released the album Land of the Blacks in 1972 under the name of the group Mtume Umoja Ensemble. In 1971, he joined Miles Davis ’backing band, performing some of the legend’s most adventurous material – including a wide range. On the Corner sessions. Mtume remained in Davis’ troop until 1975.
In 1978, after collaborating with artists such as Davis, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Liston Smith, Gato Barbieri, and Ramsey Lewis, Mtume formed the R&B group Mtume, and released their debut album. Kiss In This World Goodbye. The band went on to release four more albums, including 1983’s Juicy Fruit – ang title track famously sampled by Notorious BIG’s “Juicy.”
In addition to his own work, Mtume is also a prolific songwriter for other projects. Along with Reggie Lucas, he co -wrote Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway’s 1977 hit “The Closer I Get to You” as well as Stephanie Mills’ 1980 single “Never Knew Love Like This Before,” and in 1986, he composed the music for the film Native Son. In the 1990s, Mtume became a sought -after producer, lending his talents to R. Kelly’s 1996 song “Freak Tonight,” Mary J. Blige’s 1997 album. Share My World, and K-Ci and Jo-Jo debuted in 1997 Love Always. Mtume also works in radio, serving as on-air personality for KISS 98.7 FM in New York City. In 2019, he gave a TED Talk titled “Our Common Land of Music.” Check out some of his works below.