James Mtume, seasoned musician who performed in Miles Davis’ seminal fusion band from 1971 to 1975 and later had hits with his own eponymous group, is dead.
He died at the age 76.
Lisa Lucas, the daughter of Mtume’s late creative partner Reggie Lucas, in a Tweet this morning confirmed his death.
"So much loss. So much grief. Rest in power to Uncle Mtume. My late fathers partner in crime, the co-creator of the songs of my life (and about my birth!). He was essential part of the life of the man who made me, therefore me too. Gone now. He will be dearly, eternally missed," she said.
The American jazz musician appeared on 80 albums with a wide variety of other notable musicians, including Duke Ellington, Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, Roberta Flack, and Lonnie Liston Smith
Mtume was born James Heath Jr., the son of jazz saxophonist Jimmy Heath, in Philadelphia. He was raised by his mother Bertha Forman and pianist James “Hen Gates” Forman, who played in Charlie Parker’s band.
In 1978 Mtume formed his self-named “sophistifunk” R&B-jazz ensemble with Lucas and vocalist Tawatha Agee, releasing the albums “Kiss This World Goodbye” (1978), “In Search of the Rainbow Seekers” (1980), “Juicy Fruit” (1983), “You, Me and He” (1984, also the title of their second biggest single), and “Theater of the Mind” (1986).
After the band split in the late 1980s, Mtume maintained his profile in activist causes as well as music, working as a producer on such projects as Mary J. Blige‘s 1997 “Share My World” album, K-Ci and Jo-Jo’s “Love Always” and R. Kelly’s “Freak Tonight,” along with working as an on-air radio personality for New York City’s KISS 98.7 FM.