Saturday, August 15, 2009

Rashied Ali, RIP

The drummer, best known for his time playing with John Coltrane passed away this past Wednesday, August 12, of a heart attack at the age of 76 according to the NY Times obituary which ran on Friday the 14th.

Here is the review I did of the Rashied Ali Quintet, Judgment Day Volume 2 on Survical records for the September 2008 (issue 308) Jazz & Blues Report.

"Its been four decades since Rashied Ali was a part of John Coltrane's band after having spent time working with the likes of Archie Shepp, Don Cherry and Albert Ayler. He was added for Trane's experiments with a two-drummer format and was with Trane for his final performances and recording.

Four decades later, this Philadelphia native still goes strong, leading a quintet of trumpeter Jumaane Smith; tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark; pianist Greg Murphy; and bassist Joris Teepe who are heard on this latest release on Ali's Survival records label. While Ali is known for his work as a free drummer, much of this is quite inside, akin to the hot freebop sounds of classic sixties and seventies pioneered by Blue Note and carried forward by the bands of Louis Hayes and Woody Shaw as well as Roy Haynes Hip Ensemble. This is evident on pianist Murphy's opening Skane's Refrain. Saxophonist Clark displays a Coltrane influence on the nice rendition of Billy Strayhorn's Lush Life and James Ulmer's Thing For Joe, with the playing of the whole band being freer and high energy.

Clark's own original, Judgment Day, is another energetic Blue Note style freebop burner with strong tenor, hot trumpet from Smith who takes things into the stratosphere, Tyner-ish piano from Murphy and a bass tour de force from Teepe before Ali takes the spotlight. Ali is terrific throughout, pushing the groove but staying in the pocket. Flight #643, [co-]written by Teepe, has a funky blues flavor, while Smith's trumpet sets the tone with his solo for a strong rendition of Monk's Round Midnight. Judgment Day Volume 2 is an impressive achievement and one suspects Volume 1 might be just as compelling."

His last interview can be accessed at the All About Jazz website.

The photo is by Bogdan Dimitriu and accompanies the Wikipedia biography of Ali.

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