The younger brother of saxophonist Jesse Jones, Jr., Melton Mustafa was an expressive, hot-blooded trumpeter who played mostly jazz in the 1980s and '90s but also did his share of R&B sessions over the years.
Mustafa was born and raised in Miami, where he started playing the trumpet in junior high school and, as a teenager, played in a five-piece R&B/calypso band led by his brother. As a young adult in the '60s, Mustafa studied at Berklee College of Music and Mississippi Valley State College before graduating from Florida A&M with a degree in music education. Mustafa ended up backing quite a few soul artists in the late '60s and '70s, including Sam & Dave, Betty Wright, Latimore, the Marvelettes, and Joe Simon. But he still wanted to play jazz, and his visibility on the Miami jazz scene increased when he was hired as a sideman by hard bopper and former Chicago resident Ira Sullivan. In the '80s, Mustafa played with the Duke Ellington ghost orchestra (which was led by Mercer Ellington) and was employed as a sideman by Jaco Pastorius (who used Mustafa in his Word of Mouth band), James Williams, Bobby Watson, and John Hicks. Mustafa joined the Count Basie ghost orchestra in 1984 and stayed with that band for eight years before leaving in 1992 and forming his own big band not long after that. After signing with Contemporary/Fantasy, Mustafa recorded his first album a leader, Boiling Point, in 1995, followed by St. Louis Blues in 1997. Mustafa remained active as a music teacher in Florida during his latter years, and he continued recording as well, releasing The Traveling Man in 2012. During the recording sessions for that album -- his last -- he was reportedly in considerable pain while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Mustafa died in Miami in December of 2017 at 70 years of age. The annual Melton Mustafa Jazz Festival (begun in the 1990s) was planned to continue as a memorial to the trumpeter's spirit of community and commitment to music education. ~ Alex Henderson, Rovi