Remembering Ahmad Alaadeen

A look back at the legendary saxophonist, composer & educator.


Omaha, Nebraska – Meeting Ahmad Alaadeen, you knew you were in the presence of a jazz master. Hearing him perform confirmed your intuition. A man at ease in almost any jazz setting, he easily shifted from Coltranesque flights into the Ineffable to warm, intimate balladry. The next song would be an uptempo blues. His energy and drive would more than match his fellow musicians, some half his age, on the bandstand.

Ahmad Alaadeen, native of Kansas City whose jazz career spanned more than half a century, died Sunday August 15 at the age of 76. The cause was bladder cancer.

The accomplished saxophonist, who was known primarily by his last name, studied flute at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. He performed with the likes of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and the Count Basie Orchestra. In 2010 Alaadeen was awarded the American Jazz Museum's Lifetime Achievement Award. His career had spanned more than fifty years, both as a performer and a songwriter.

Alaadeen was also known his contributions as a jazz educator. Involved for 35 years in jazz education in the Kansas City area, his commitment to passing on the jazz artistry to new generations of musicians was highly regarded. In 2009 he released "The Rest of the Story", a primer for young jazz musicians to find their sound and learn the art of improvisation.

Alaadeen's final recording, "And the Beauty of It All", captured some of the many gems from the master saxophonist. In 2009 Jazz in the Afternoon host Chris Cooke interviewed Alaadeen about his recording, his book and his celebrated jazz career. Click on the link to listen to that interview (Recording Engineer: Mike Hansen).

Alaadeen will be missed by countless jazz fans, students, and fellow musicians. For more information you may visit . A concert of Alaadeen's music is planned for 8:30 p.m. September 4 in the Blue Room at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City. Visit for more details.