A master tenor saxophonist, multi-reedsman, composer, and jazz educator, Salim Washington is one of the fastest rising stars on the New York Jazz scene today. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, the eldest of five children born to Tony Washington and Stella Jean Key, he moved to Detroit, Michigan with his family at the age of eight.
As was the custom in Black Bottom Detroit, he was drafted into the neighborhood gang (in those days, youth gangs were more involved in petty mischief than in homicide and the drug trade). The gang leader happened to play trumpet, and was the vessel that led Salim to music. Having more talent for music than for gangs, he pursued music first as a trumpet player, and later as a student of classical piano. By middle school, Salim was playing in school ensembles and student funk bands. He also was deeply influenced by the musical culture of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a Pentecostal sect in which his father was a minister.