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Khan Jamal

Khan Jamal
Birth nameWarren Robert Cheeseboro
Born(1946-07-23)July 23, 1946
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
DiedJanuary 10, 2022(2022-01-10) (aged 75)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Instrumentsvibraphone, marimba, percussion
Years active1960s–2022
Associated actsByard Lancaster, Sunny Murray

Khan Jamal (July 23, 1946 – January 10, 2022), born Warren Robert Cheeseboro, was an American jazz vibraphone and marimba player. He founded the band Sounds of Liberation in 1970. He was described by Ron Wynn as "a proficient soloist when playing free material, jazz-rock and fusion, hard bop, or bluesy fare."

Early life

Warren Robert Cheeseboro was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on July 23, 1946. His father, Henry McCloud, worked as an entrepreneur; his mother, Willa Mae Cheeseboro, was a stride pianist. He was raised in Philadelphia, and began playing the vibraphone during the later part of his teenage years in the mid-1960s. Jamal attended the Granoff School of Music and the Combs College of Music.


Jamal first played for a group called Cosmic Forces during the later part of the 1960s. He also played with The Sun Ra Arkestra. After leaving the group, he teamed up with several other of its former members to play with Sunny Murray's group Untouchable Factor.

Jamal later co-founded Sounds of Liberation with Byard Lancaster in 1970. Its members included Monnette Sudler (guitar), Billy Mills (bass), Dwight James (drums), and Omar Hill and Rashid Salim (percussion). The band released its one and only album two years later, titled New Horizons, utilizing its own record label Dogtown. However, its popularity was limited to within Philadelphia. The album was eventually reissued on Porter Records in 2010. This gave the group a new lease on life, culminating in the re-emergence of a recording made at Columbia University in 1973. It was ultimately issued in 2019 as Unreleased on Dogtown/Brewerytown.

In addition to leading his own groups, Jamal has performed with Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society in the 1980s, Joe Bonner, Billy Bang, Charles Tyler and others. His first solo album was Drum Dance to the Motherland, a live recording that was held in a small café in his hometown and first released in 1973. It was reissued by Eremite Records in 2020, with the label describing it as "the most legendary private press underground jazz album of the 1970s". Another solo album by Jamal, Infinity (1984), was reissued by Jazz Room in 2021 and dubbed "spiritual jazz" by WBGO.

Jamal's style connected the two contrasting forms of free jazz and jazz fusion. He was also noted for his skill of shifting modes and moods, as well as his versatile way towards music. He was a frequent performer at the Vision Festival.

Personal life

Jamal had two sons: Khan II and Tahir. He died on January 10, 2022, at the Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia. He was 75, and suffered kidney failure prior to his death.


Name Year Publishment
Drum Dance to the Motherland 1972 Dogtown
Give the Vibes Some 1974 Palm 10
The River 1978 Philly Jazz 1002, with Bill Lewis
Infinity 1984 Con'brio 001; Stash 278; Jambrio 1001; Jazz Room 006
Dark Warrior 1984 SteepleChase
Three 1985 SteepleChase with Pierre Dørge, Johnny Dyani
The Traveller 1985 SteepleChase
Thinking of You 1986 Storyville 4138
Speak Easy 1988 Gazell 4001
Don't Take No! 1989 Stash ST-CD-20
Percussion & Strings 1997 CIMP
Cubano Chant 2000 Jambrio 1002
Balafon Dance 2002 CIMP
Cool 2002 Jambrio 1008
Nothing Is Wrong 2003 CIMP with Odean Pope
Black Awareness 2005 CIMP
Return from Exile 2005 Discograph 6124582
Fire and Water 2007 CIMP with Dylan Taylor-bass
Impressions of Coltrane 2009 SteepleChase

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