Various Reviews

Various Reviews

Rashied Ali Quintet, Prima Materia, etc.

Live Performance & CD Reviews

Rashied Ali Quintet Reviews

Chris' Jazz Cafe - November 22, 2008

Rashied Ali made his second visit to Chris’ this year, reflecting ownership’s wish to include some avant-leaning stuff into their mix. In fact, they have been after Ars Nova Workshop to program some action there but so far the response has been cool. Ali, who lives part-time in Philly, was masterful in laying down polyrhythms, tingling cymbal swagger and classic in-the-pocket percussion. At times, he sounded as grounded as local hero Mickey Roker.

His young band consisted of Josh Evans (tpt), Lakecia Benjamin (as), Greg Murphy (p) and Joris Teepe (b). Evans and Benjamin took turns blowing red hot flames while Murphy revealed many layers to his playing, although most of his time was spent rocketing around the keys. His solo during the second set’s “Cuttin Corners,” a nasty, spit-fire attack without the benefit of a safety net, was a musical peak for the night…

- Ken Weiss - Cadence Magazine - January, 2009

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: Cool Jazz in Harlem
By WILL FRIEDWALD | August 25, 2008

There are always plenty of people to thank at free outdoor concerts such as Saturday's 16th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival — producers, sponsors, press partners (in this case the City Parks Foundation, Bloomberg, Time Warner, and WBGO-FM). But only one entity deserves credit for the success of this year's event, and that's the Big Weather Guy in the Sky, who saw to it that the temperature in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park was bearable and the humidity was low...

...For the next act, we transitioned from the high-energy trio to an even higher-energy quintet. The drummer Rashied Ali is best known for his explosive percussion work with John Coltrane's final, avant-garde ensemble of 1965-67. But Mr. Ali's current quintet is a direct extension of the more user-friendly music of Coltrane's earlier "classic" quartet. It is the same band, playing some of the same music, as the one featured on Mr. Ali's 2006 albums "Judgment Day Vol. 1" and "Judgment Day Vol. 2," including Lawrence Clark on tenor saxophone, Greg Murphy on piano, Joris Teepe on bass, with the addition of a second saxophonist, Lakecia Benjamin, on alto.

The set consisted of two deliriously fast numbers: "Skane's Refrain," which seemed inspired by "Impressions," and "Liberia," Coltrane's own modal reduction of "A Night in Tunisia." Separating the two was a ballad, Mr. Teepe's very pretty "Almost Lucky," which gave everyone a chance to cool down. Overall, this lineup plays very attractive outdoor jazz concert music — mostly modal, with occasional free-jazz excursions, particularly in Mr. Clark's tenor solos, which utilize squeaks and honks as a kind of stagecraft. Likewise, Ms. Benjamin's tone seemed slightly out of tune (in the manner of the late Jackie McLean), but she clearly knows how to ignite a festival crowd and drew wild applause for every solo.

New York Sun wfriedwald@nysun.com

Still Out There
Interstellar jazz legend Rashied Ali makes space for the next generation.
- by Shaun Brady
Published: Jan 15, 2008

Drummer Rashied Ali was the subject of one of the most famous mentorships in jazz history, thrust into the spotlight when he first supplemented and then replaced Elvin Jones in John Coltrane's band. Ali was there alongside the legendary saxophonist on his furthest explorations into the outer limits of his music, most notably as Trane's duet partner on the groundbreaking Interstellar Space.

So it's not entirely surprising that Ali has himself settled into something of a mentor's role, leading a quintet of strong young players. "I seem to get with younger people who are more interested in playing something different," Ali explains over the phone from his home, directly above the SoHo recording studio that formerly housed his mid-'70s loft club, Ali's Alley. "They listen to my old records and when they come, they're sort of prepared for me. I feel like the younger cats are the backbone of the music, so I try to contribute as much as I can to them to help them along like Trane helped me along."

Throughout the quintet's two CDs, Judgment Day Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, on the leader's own Survival Records, Ali's exuberant style is fully in evidence, driving the music forward with a combustible force that threatens to project the drummer straight out of his chair, laced with his omnipresent chattering cymbals. What may come as a surprise is that the music they produce is not the burning free jazz with which Ali is most closely associated, but far more straightahead hard bop, two sets of originals, obscure jazz tunes and a few standards.

"Actually, I've always played like that," Ali says. "Listen to Interstellar Space and the tunes that I did with Coltrane, I'm always dealing with a pulse. Some people think I just throw everything up in the air, helter-skelter boom, and let it come down like it is, but I never really played like that."

Ali's quintet was originally formed with fellow undersung free-jazz pioneer Frank Lowe, but when the tenor saxophonist passed away in 2003, the group transformed into its current configuration, resembling Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in its structure of a veteran drummer leading a group of younger acolytes.

Required Reading
A.D. Amorosi's 2000 interview with Ali.

"People are putting me into a bag like that now," Ali admits. "They're calling me the new Art Blakey, because I guess I'm a senior citizen now and I've got all these kids playing with me. But I love playing with younger cats because their minds are open and they're willing to take a chance with the music. I agree with Blakey, I'm going to stay with the young people, man, because they keep me young."

Born in 1935 in Philly (where he still has a house), Ali got his start playing with local rhythm and blues bands, later graduating to more straightahead jazz groups, but everything changed when first heard the burgeoning free jazz movement.

"When I heard cats like Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, I started trying to change my direction," Ali recalls. "I said, 'Wow, there's something else I need to be dealing with.'"

With his brother Muhammad, Ali formed a double trio in emulation of the Ornette Coleman double quartet that had recorded Free Jazz. But the Ali brothers found little acceptance in Philadelphia at that time. "Even the musicians started looking at me all funny," he says. "Everybody was going, 'What is this shit you're doing now, man?' But I just committed myself to doing that."

In 1963, Ali made the move to New York, where he fell in with more sympathetic thinkers such as Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp and Marion Brown. Two years later, he found himself in Coltrane's band. Coltrane impressed Ali with his fanatical devotion to his music, applying himself with such zeal that even discussing it 40 years later, Ali chastised himself for going a few days without practicing.

"He definitely was a searcher, man," Ali says. "He played all the time. In the dressing room before the gig he'd be playing, and by the time we'd get on the bandstand he'd be wet from practicing in the back room. It really made a hell of an impression on me. He wasn't a sports fanatic, he wasn't into basketball, football, baseball, none of that shit. He didn't even know who Willie Mays was. He was just unbelievably into what he was into, and I've never seen anybody else who could do that. That's crazy, man, to just put all of your marbles in one basket, but that's what he did."

s_brady@citypaper.net
Rashied Ali Quintet plays Sat., Jan. 19, 8 and 10 p.m., $20 (first show), $15 (second show), Chris' Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom St., 215-568-3131, chrisjazzcafe.com.

Drummer for Coltrane keeps jazz legacy alive
Bryan Gibel - 10/9/07
Daily Lobo - The University of New Mexico

John Coltrane died in 1967, but his music lived on at an Albuquerque festival held over the weekend. The Creative Soundspace Fall Festival at the Outpost Performance Space celebrated Coltrane's mark on the U.S. and abroad. It focused on Coltrane as a composer and saxophonist who still impacts jazz today, Outpost Executive Director Tom Guralnick said. "He's one of the most important people in the history of jazz," Guralnick said. "He has a legacy of pushing the music forward to unexplored territories. That was 40 years ago, and his music still stands out as something that remains unmatched, fresh and innovative to this day.

"The festival kicked off Thursday with a performance by the Rashied Ali Quintet. Ali was one of Coltrane's drummers during the two years preceding his death. Ali and his group played two sets to a full house, featuring originals, extended improvisations and avant-garde jazz compositions. While only a few of the songs were written by Coltrane, Ali said his influence permeated the group's performance.

"John Coltrane was my guru, man," Ali said. "He was the father of this whole movement that we were playing, you know. He's always been that inspiration that kind of drives you to do things. "In his later years, Coltrane was known for playing frenetic, freewheeling improvisations that some critics found busy and inaccessible.

During his Outpost set, Ali sometimes played so fast that his drumsticks resembled hummingbirds hovering above his kit. Ali's polyrhythmic playing was a multidimensional sonic onslaught, incorporating beats that were simultaneously calm and thunderous, staccato and prolonged. But the music balanced structured composition and free improvisation, Ali said. "I really feel like I can play any song and make it compatible with what I'm doing, like, the song is the vehicle, more or less, just to get me into the groove," he said. "Sometimes I'm just trying to play all the music at the same time and just move it around. One minute, it sounds like it's swinging. One minute, it sounds like it's open. One minute, it sounds like it's neither here nor there."

Ali was accompanied by Lawrence Clark on saxophone, Josh Evans on trumpet, Greg Murphy on piano and Joris Teepi on bass. During an interpretation of Coltrane's "Liberia," Murphy's piano stylings stood out during a 10-minute duet with Ali. At times, Murphy struck the keys with his whole arm. At other times, he used a single finger on each hand to tap out rapid-fire notes. Ali said playing with his quintet's younger musicians keeps him at the forefront of avant-garde improvisation. "They're the cats who have the momentum," Ali said. "They try to play what they feel, not what someone else told them to play. And I like that kind of freedom."

Guralnick said the festival, held in fall and spring, doesn't always focus on jazz. Its purpose is to highlight innovative music of all forms. Coltrane continues to inspire innovative music and the evolution of avant-garde jazz, Ali said. "Things change. Right in the music, in midstream, they change," Ali said. "You keep going and you never know what you can find. We are just trying to make a difference in the music, man. That's it."

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday Afternoon: The Rains Let Up!
Posted by: Jerry Karp

In the Bill Berry Night Club venue, venerable avant-bop drummer Rashied Ali is holding forth with a fiery quintet.

Ali, of course, is one of the trailblazers of the new wave jazz movement of the 60s, and was the drummer for some of John Coltrane's most far-reaching late-career explorations. I am primed for a full-on explosion of in-your-face jazz and this band is just the ticket.

Ali's attack is still a full-throttle rocket blast, on fire but without a trace of bombast. The band, led by and excellent horn tandem of saxophonist Lawrence Clark and trumpeter Josh Evans, offers high-octane post bop, which, again, is just what I am looking for.

A number Ali introduces as the title track to the band's new CD, "Judgment Day," is a great example of what the band has to offer. It's a fast-tempo cooker, and Evans steps forward with an extended solo. Evans' ideas fly fast and furious. He uses the highest ranges of his horn with aplomb, but judiciously, only to add emphasis at the end of an idea.

The solo is relentless but rarely repetitive, and when Evans steps aside for Clark, you feel he has still not exhausted everything he has to say here. Clark, though, takes up the gauntlet quickly, throwing clouds of notes across the hall, squealing and groaning only just enough to craft mid-stream commentary on his own hard charges.

Pianist Greg Murphy sweeps in next, with flowing, two-handed flashes alternating heat and cool.

Ah, yes. This is what I needed.
jazzwest.com/blogs

Monterey Notebook: Judgment Day
Saturday, 4:10 p.m. The Night Club - Bill Berry Stage
[September 22, 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival] - By Forrest Dylan Bryant

Down at the teeming Night Club, the Rashied Ali Quintet has worked itself into a frenzy, the air pulsing with raw electric energy from Lawrence Clark’s tenor saxophone. Condensing into a tunneling postbop burn, the ensemble greases the skids for Josh Evans’ ringing trumpet solo as a knot of young hepcats standing in the back of the room looks on and nods. The conflagration on stage soon spreads to ignite Greg Murphy’s piano, which cuts through a maze of maddeningly fast notes like a laser beam.
Smiling, Ali drives the breakneck pace from his drum kit. But it seems to be less a matter of his pushing the band than pulling them up to his natural pace. Lifting off into a solo of his own, Ali tempers the thunder with prodding, exploratory pauses, as if seeking to define the underlying structure of his titanic rhythms.
It takes the [better] part of half an hour to work through the tune, and the band quickly calms things down for "You’re Reading My Mind," a mysterious ballad by bassist Joris Teepe. Formed by layers of melancholy, Teepe’s solo on this tune carries a tenderness that might have seemed impossible only minutes before.
"Judgment Day," another 30-minute epic, enters with a simple fanfare before launching into a hard 1960s-style thrust. Again the intensity rises to shattering levels, and the dynamite horn solos soon form a sort of force field around the Night Club stage, making everything outside seem almost irrelevant.

Monterey Jazz Festival 2007
Straight Ahead and Strive For Tone - A Jazz Blog

Saturday. Great shows, that I saw. As you who have ever been there, know that when you have arena seats sometimes you don't get to the outer venues. Even though I'm beginning to think that the outer venues, seeming to be relegated to the supposed "lesser" acts (deemed so by the producers of the festival, not me) has much better music and it wouldn't matter at all (and I'd save A BUNCH of $$$) if I just surrendered the arena seats. Two highlights for me (three if you count the blue sky, sun, and warmth that finally broke out mid-afternoon). Rashied Ali's Quintet (this guy who was reading from a script that lauded the merits of Rashied's history and wonderful involvement with Coltrane and so many others..then at the end introduced him as "Ali Rashied", and you knew immediately the guy never heard a single note of Rashied's music). Rashied's group was tight, always right on time (from a rhythm POV), really great writing by all, and extremely energetic and exciting.

LAKE GEORGE JAZZ WEEKEND
Shepard Park, Lake George, NY
September 15, 2007 - By J Hunter

FREEDOM FROM FEAR: To some, 'Free Jazz' means sheets of ear-splitting cacophony that makes as much sense as a fractal painting, and takes just as long to decipher. Rashied Ali's set sounded nothing like the previous description, but it was 'Free Jazz' - free from fear, free from boundaries, and free to explore. Exploration is old hat to Ali: Aside from his time with John Coltrane, the phenomenal drummer has saddled up with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and James 'Blood' Ulmer, so Ali's young quintet had an experienced guide as to the musical unknown. Armed with a set of tunes from Ali's latest disc Judgment Day Vol. 1 and 2 (Survival Records, 2006), the Ali Quintet used a hard-bop take on Jaco Pastorius' "Dania" to launch the festivities - and when I say 'launch', I'm speaking in NASA terms.

Josh Evans' trumpet was as bright as the sunshine flashing through the trees, and Lawrence Clark blew volcanic tenor throughout, particularly on his composition "Judgment Day." Bassist Joris Teepe was playing with a torn rotator cuff - an injury he incurred a month before - but you couldn't have told, given the wonderfully rich solos he served up with seeming ease as he played with the band for the first time in a month. As for Ali, he is a card-carrying member of that hallowed fraternity of drummers over age 70 that can tear it up like an offending paper bag. It's unclear whether Ali inspires the band or the band inspires Ali, but the end result is just the same, and just as epic.

Jazz hits Lake George
REVIEW - By Mike Curtin
Special to The Post-Star
Saturday, September 15, 2007

A revered figure in modern jazz, drummer Rashied Ali led his quintet through 75 minutes of hard-charging "hard bop." The skeletal refrains of Jaco Pastorious’ "Dania" were stretched for nearly 20 minutes as each member of the quintet was accorded ample solo time, including Ali who at the age of 71 displayed a level of speed, dexterity and ingenuity that percussionists a third his age would die to possess.

"Judgment Day," the title track of the group’s first disc, was equally expansive. It was the means for saxophonist Lawrence Clark (also the composition’s creator) to unfurl wave after wave of reed-splitting ascents to just Ali’s resounding accompaniment, not unlike Sonny Rollins or Ali’s past bandmate over four decade ago, John Coltrane.

Don Cherry’s elegant "Multi-Culti" culminated Ali and his band’s performance, One of the festival’s strongest sets in recent memory, it was jazz at its most inventive, freed from convention, but firmly rooted in its storied past.

PERFORMING ARTS
Washington Post - Monday, September 10, 2007
Rashied Ali - By Chris Richards

Rashied Ali is the drummer who snapped the pendulum -- a free jazz legend who refused the role of timekeeper in favor of improvised clatter.
He created some monumental noise with Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry and Albert Ayler, but made his boldest mark in 1967 when he joined John Coltrane for one of the final recording sessions of the saxophonist's life. Later released as the album "Interstellar Space," the collaboration yielded a series of stunning duets with Ali's righteous racket jostling against John Coltrane's cosmic braying.
Stylistically, the 72-year-old Ali returned to earth decades ago, but at Twins Jazz on Friday night, his drumming still flickered with the unhinged energy that made him his name. You could hear it on John Coltrane's "Liberia," as Ali's quintet toggled between traditional swing and energetic spontaneity.
Ali kept his mouth clamped shut for most of the performance (which included a smoky take on the old Thelonious Monk chestnut " 'Round Midnight"), but not during James "Blood" Ulmer's "Theme From Captain Black." As his quintet ventured into its wildest playing of the night, the drummer bent those creased lips into a smile. Forty years after revolutionizing rhythm, Ali still seems happiest in the chaos.

Multi-directional Masterclass
Rashied Ali Quintet
Pizza on the Park
Saturday July 21, 2007

"True legend" in jazz circles is a frequently-used cliche. This time it's true. Rashied Ali is the man who pioneered an approach to drumming which threw out the traditional idea of the drummer as human metronome. His work with John Coltrane in the great saxophonist's final years is a high point of avant-garde creativity. It was Coltrane who coined the term "multi-directional" to describe Ali's loose, free style of rhythmic propulsion.

His current touring quintet with Greg Murphy (piano), Joris Teepe (bass), Josh Evans (trumpet) and Lawrence Clark (tenor saxophone) is playing a style which combines modern post-bop with Ali's trademark free jazz. During two hours at Pizza Express they performed only six tunes, averaging 20-30 minutes in length.

Every band member was given space for long improvisations on Jaco Pastorius's composition "Dania", which kicked off the night. Ali's revolutionary technique was evident from the start as he strayed in and out of timekeeping with an emphasis on snare drum usage. Second on the bill was the Monk classic "'Round Midnight" and the set ended with the ominous, fanfare-like melody of Coltrane's "Liberia". This was the first point at which the bass and piano dropped out, leaving Ali alone with Clark on saxophone. It was almost like two simultaneous solos, highly reminiscent of Coltrane's final studio album "Interstellar Space" which is a series of duets with Ali. The diners didn't know what had hit them; Saturday night in Knightsbridge is usually more genteel. It was a fitting tribute to 'Trane, with this concert coming days after the 40th anniversary of his death.

The second set featured two more standards and ended with "If only I had a Gig", the band's take on songs from The Wizard of Oz. There were further moments of sax-drums duelling, bassist Teepe produced one of the most melodic solos of the evening, playing on his own for several minutes, and Evans on trumpet also impressed with screamingly passionate lines.

Rashied Ali may be nearly 70, but his creative instincts continue to develop. His work with this young lineup constantly throws up new challenges and his solos burst with complexity. Hopefully this will carry on for some years to come.

- By Frederick Bernas

Rashied Ali Quintet at Pizza on the Park, 20/7/07
Rashied Ali (drums), Josh Evans (Trumpet), Lawrence Clark
(Tenor Sax), Greg Murphy (Piano), Joris Teepe (Bass)

It’s been a good month for Big Historical Names; after Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor, now: Rashied Ali, with his Quintet, at the Pizza on the Park. And a bit of a change to get to see a big name american act in a much more intimate venue. Rashied Ali probably isn’t as big as Ornette or Taylor/Braxton, but Interstellar Space is one of the most important (and frequently played) records I’ve ever bought (being as it was one of the first sounds to push me into complete musical Freedom)… and like the big anticipated RFH acts earlier in the month, he didn’t let me down.
First off: a word about Pizza on the Park… My first visit to a ‘proper’ London jazz club (basement, no windows, waitress service)… Why haven’t I checked out this place before? Great atmosphere (although, also, in parts, a bit cliquey, and theme-parky). Pizza on the Park is essentially a Pizza Express gig, so the same just-slightly disappointing pizzas, but ok… However, the service itself was really chronic, which was seriously annoying for the sort of place where you can’t go and just dig it out yourself. Although probably suffering from single-diner blind-spot syndrome, would have been nice if my waiter could have actually bothered to get me at least one alchoholic beverage during the four hours I was sat there (or a desert! or a cheque at the end!). Anyway, not wanting to put too much emphasis on this point, but it was a bit of a downer, and makes me feel like it’s not really the sort of place I’d want to visit unless I knew the band was going to be great.

The music:

Rashied Ali was playing with most of the quintet off his Judgement Day record (I need clarification over the trumpeter). Fairly typical feel overall; the sort of contemporary hard-bop sourced music that most of the American Names are probably going back to, to mostly bide their time… A kind of broad Blue Note, sixties/early seventies vibe. But totally solid. The trumpeter was playing the most Inside, but with really powerful lines. Maybe it was because he was playing straight into my face, but… trumpet usually leaves me wondering why?; this was cool. Lawrence Clark was an impressive soloist, on tenor, fast runs all around his horn, overblowing at the top and at the bottom, with the odd strains of Coltrane seeping through (that’s a cliché; Clark was not, and really had his own sound). At the same time, not just going through motions, he had a solid grasp on the melodic construction (in fact, I think he was responsible for quite a few of the band’s actual charts and tunes). Towards the end of the second set (possibly on a performance of Judgement Day itself), the band pulled back for a time leaving a Clark–Ali duo, and the tumbling (and unpredictable) sheets of sound moved closest to JC territory. That little part, probably the highlight of the night. The bass was a little lacklustre, but then he was having to make do with a slightly battered electric bass, having an even more battered double bass lying in a heap somewhere on the tarmac at Heathrow airport. The pianist, Greg Murphy, played formative lines, freaking into some unexpected blast crashes every now and then, showing signs of something more free… Underpinning all this, of course, Rashied Ali. The rest of the band may have been playing on the Inside, but Ali stuck to free scattering pulses, firing out shots here and there in patterns that were only just obviously related to the group form, bringing the staid-in-principle choice of set list into something, really, Else. It was amazing how powerful his sound was hitting me, all from barely perceptible motions of the sticks; it was almost like artillery going off. Fairly unique, I can’t remember seeing any drummer play like him, and he was completely and utterly mesmerizing. Although my Rashied Ali record collection is generally far more free than this, and the traditionality of the group was slightly suprising, it all worked brilliantly, with Ali’s own freedom drive making it all that little bit more special.

- Unknown reviewer

Rashied Ali - Interstellar Overdrive

As John Coltrane moved to the last phase of his career embracing the adventurous spirit of the New York avant garde, drummer Rashied Ali was there at the heart of his new thinking with his ’multi-directional’ drumming and non standard approach that altered the course of Coltrane’s music as it reached its great peak on the album Interstellar Space. Since Coltrane’s death Rashied Ali’s career has, like the course of the avant garde itself, seen its peaks and troughs alternating with periods of obscurity and glimpses of revived interest in this unique musician’s approach. Ahead of a run of dates in London this month, Rashied talks to Kevin Le Gendre

In the wake of 9/11 the African-American poet Sharrif Simmons found that waspish paranoia over anything remotely related to Islam affected his working life. Promoters in the States were reluctant to book a performer with a first name bearing no evident Christian connotations. Ironically Sharrif translates from Arabic as ’Honest.’

Some might say that the name Rashied Ali is even more liable to arouse suspicion. Not only is this a Muslim appellation, it is also distinctly close to that of Muhammad Ali, the civil rights and sports icon who was once a sword-sized thorn in the flesh of the American establishment. ’You know I’ve had this name my whole life,’ says Ali, the 72-year-old drummer who started playing professionally in the 60s and who perchance also has a brother called Muhammad. ’Since 9/11 it’s been kind of weird in airports. They double check me and stuff like that but after they find out that I was born in America, my father and grandfather too and I’m a black American, I don’t get hassled as much.

’ But at the same time it’s difficult after what went down. I tend to be careful about where I go because I just don’t wanna be yanked off a bus or a train or something because of my name.’
It was actually back in the mid-40s that Ali’s father decided to change his own name, and that of his son Robert Patterson to Rashied Ali. When Ali joined John Coltrane’s band in the mid-60s he carried two passports. ’Back then they used to double check me and talk to me a lot,’ Ali recalls on the phone from New York.

’John had said to me once when he went to get my passport ’Do you want it in Robert Patterson or Rashied Ali?’ I said ’I think I’ll do it in Rashied Ali’ and never looked back. You know John had a Muslim name too but he never used it.’

Ali’s first hand knowledge of one of the great icons of jazz as well the vital contribution he made to the final phase of Coltrane’s career - when the saxophonist was at his most uncompromisingly ’out’ - make the drummer both an important repository of historical information and a beacon of inspiration to a new generation of artists.

- This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #110

Rashied Ali Quintet

First achieving widespread recognition as the drummer with John Coltrane during his groundbreaking performances and recordings of 1965–67, Rashied Ali has remained one of the most original percussionists in jazz. For the past five years, he has led a quintet that includes Jumaane Smith on trumpet (a young man who “plays with fiery conviction and the technical virtuosity of a seasoned veteran”), Lawrence Clark on tenor sax (“his tenor tone is lush and enhances the allusion”), Greg Murphy on piano (“invokes the swing at the heart of Thelonious Monk’s rhetoric and rhythm”) and Joris Teepe’s (“steady walking”) bass. Owing more to Ali’s hard bop roots than to his familiar free jazz explorations, the quintet recently released Judgment Day, a two-CD set which has received uniform critical acclaim. “These are fantastic discs that exist inside the tradition while offering repeated opportunities for its fresh appraisal.” (Marc Medwin, Dusted.) “A fine blowing date with intelligently composed charts built around Ali’s uniquely cliché-free personal style.” (All About Jazz) “Though this band rarely plays outside of New York City, this is one of the more potent working quintets in jazz today.” (JazzTimes)

At Avant-Garde Jazz Series, Rashied Ali and a Reunion
February 13, 2007 The New York Times

The Sculptured Sounds Music Festival adheres to an appealingly pure-hearted ideal. Organized and anchored by the bassist Reggie Workman, it presents adventurous jazz groups every Sunday night in February. The concerts take place at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Midtown Manhattan, familiar to a certain breed of New Yorker as the site of countless jazz memorial services. That sounds morbid, but it didn’t feel that way on Sunday. Well, maybe just at first, as a quiet, expectant rustle could be heard in the pews.
Notably, those pews were nearly full despite the Grammy Awards, which were on television. According to Mr. Workman, this attendance was in stark contrast to the previous Sunday’s concert, which competed with another broadcast event, the Super Bowl. (Take those comparative results and draw your own conclusions about jazz fans.) Add that the audience was not only robust but also diverse — in sex, race and age — and you have the kind of turnout that would make any producer happy.
Musically, the evening was a mixed bag. Its high points were very high, its low points were fairly low, and there was a lot of moderate stuff in between. The evening, thankfully, yielded mostly positive results and had enough propulsion to shake off whatever wasn’t working.
The headliner was Great Friends, a group that included Mr. Workman. (He makes no pretense of objectivity as a producer, appearing on each of the festival’s installments.) Formed in the 1980s by the drummer Billy Hart, the reunited ensemble featured its charter members: Mr. Hart and Mr. Workman, as well as the tenor saxophonist Billy Harper and the pianist Stanley Cowell. A later member, the alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune, had bowed out at the last minute, Mr. Workman said.
After getting off to a shaky start with the calypsolike “East Harlem Nostalgia,” the group delivered one of the evening’s standout moments. It was “Equipoise,” an anthem by Mr. Cowell with a leaping-interval motif. It was an ideal showcase for Mr. Cowell, who fashioned a saloon-style introduction and later improvised a more ardent stream of arpeggios and cascades.
Mr. Harper took a similarly stellar turn on “Insight,” a breakneck number composed by Mr. Hart with a chord progression borrowed from “Autumn Leaves.” Mr. Harper’s solo was a relentless sweep of eighth notes, each crisply articulated despite the daunting tempo. In the rhythm section, Mr. Workman and Mr. Hart made their frantic swing feel less so, shifting their accents to create clear spaces whenever the music needed to breathe.
During an earlier performance slot, the drummer Rashied Ali applied the same strategy to an almost comically turbocharged rendition of “Joshua,” a Victor Feldman song associated with Miles Davis. Mr. Ali, best known as the chief percussionist in the squalling late-period groups of John Coltrane, was leading a quintet featuring Jumaane Smith on trumpet and Antoine Roney on tenor saxophone.
Defying his reputation for fearsome avant-gardism, Mr. Ali drove his group in a hard-bop direction; the reference point seemed to be Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. This was the case not only on “Shied Indeed,” a crackling opener by Mr. Smith, but also “Saturn,” a movement from “Interstellar Space,” the duet album Coltrane made with Mr. Ali. It was a strange translation; Mr. Ali seemed intent on normalizing something treasured precisely for its utter lack of compromise.

- By NATE CHINEN

Rashied Ali Quintet
Pizza on the Park, London
From the October 2006 issue of Jazzwise Magazine

Billed as “Rashied Ali” Coltrane’s last drummer”, the saxophonist is inevitably the ghost at this banquet. You have to remind yourself that music such as this is as old as 12-minute guitar solos and liquid light shows. How do you avoid turning it into a Lincoln Center Museum piece? Rashied Ali’s answer is simple, play it like it’s now, like life depends on it and that’s just what his band did for a good-size audience on the last night of a three date run at this excellent, up-market club. It was hard to decide what was most impressive about this group. Tenorist Lawrence Clark has listened well to Trane but unlike his peers has gone deep into the giant’s late period as well and trumpeter Jumaane Smith plays as if he’s absorbed it all from Louis and Henry “Red” Allen to Don Cherry.
On James “Blood” Ulmer’s Theme For Captain Black’, the two horns soloed simultaneously, weaving around each other like two prize-fighters, while pianist Greg Murphy threw these fantastic tone clusters in to his solo on ‘Ulmer’s Thing For Joe’ that were totally “out” yet rhythmically and dynamically in keeping with the piece. Bassist Joris Teepe is less obviously outstanding but his solo on Dolphy’s ‘245’ was rhythmically adventurous and he anchors this craft magnificently, while his mid-paced composition ‘Flight 643’ swung beautifully. But time and again, you were drawn back to the man behind the kit that was where it all seemed to begin. Loose-limbed, constantly shifting patterns, kaleidoscopes of sound, distant thunder, strange accents but perfect time. Always maintaining momentum but never resorting to the obvious, Rashied Ali was inspired and inspiring.

- Duncan Heining

Seattle Times October 27. 2006 (Earshot Jazz Festival)

The hometown team gave a hearty welcome to Roosevelt grad Jumaane Smith, back from New York to play at The Triple Door Tuesday with drummer Rashied Ali. His set of originals, some written by guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer, bristled with brash urgency, puncturing the skin of post-bop decorum with fierce rhythms and warbling cries. Tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark was the highlight, especially when he and Ali chewed tenaciously on a phrase, recalling Ali's historic duets with John Coltrane. Smith, though exciting, was stuck in high gear.

Rashied Ali, Pizza on the Park, London
Published: August 27 2006

Rashied Ali’s reputation still hangs on being the drummer who played with even higher levels of energy and rhythmic abstraction than Elvin Jones, his predecessor with the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane’s “classic quartet”. Ali’s rhythmic onslaught removed the last traces of jazz’ traditional metronomic pulses, and is credited with propelling Coltrane into the further reaches of free-form jazz during the saxophonist’s final years – Ali joined Coltrane in 1965, two years before his death.
Though Ali’s playing with John Coltrane dispensed with a regular metronomic beat, he never turned his back on the energy and pulse that lies at the heart of the jazz tradition, and his ability to swing in the traditional sense should never have been in doubt. Now aged 71 and with a regular working group, Ali still provides the energy to drive a young sax and trumpet front line, and over two well-received sets, captured the fire and commitment of more incendiary times.
Ali likes his soloists to dig deep into their reservoirs of inspiration and energy – both sets featured only three numbers, and of these two were relatively short original ballads, “Dania” a waltz in the first set and the emotionally astringent “You’re Reading my Mind” in the second. These come between extended versions of themes custom built for soloists to build tension that can be released into an urgent but tight swing.
The first set’s opening “Judgment Day”, title track of their current CD, used a menacing modal pedal to build tension, the second set’s “Shied Indeed” a keeningly harmonized counterpoint. Closing covers of “Joshua” and “Rhythm-A-Ning” also followed this pattern.
With the excellent Dutch bassist Joris Teepe moving telepathically round the beat in synchrony with Ali’s dead-centre timing, saxophonist Lawrence Clark was given ample room to showcase his declamatory tone, split harmonics and low note ululations, though it was the technical virtuosity, brash tone and soulful melodic flow of trumpeter Jumaane Smith that really impressed. [4 out of 5 stars]

- By Mike Hobart, Financial Times

BREAKING NEWS jazzwise.com
24.08.06: Rashied Ali blasts Pizza on the Park into space

London’s Pizza on the Park jazz club took a welcome left turn in its booking policy this week as Rashied Ali and his band completed three rare dates which blasted the club into outer space.
The ex-Coltrane drummer and his band, including hot newcomers Lawrence Clark, tenor sax, and Jumaane Smith, trumpet, alongside pianist Greg Murphy and bassist Joris Teepe, wasted little time in raising the performance to an intense, deeply spiritual level the likes of which had never been heard in this venue before. Ali took pieces by Eric Dolphy, James ‘Blood’ Ulmer and Don Cherry and reshaped them into sonic launch pads for Smith and Clark to soar deep into the stratosphere, climbing higher and higher over the drummer’s galvanic rolling thunder. Watch for an in-depth review in October’s Jazzwise, out on 29 September.

The Evening Standard August 21st, 2006
Rashied Ali Quintet
Pizza on the Park, SW1X 7LY (London, UK)
HEAVY GOING

"Listen, I was a Muslim long before all this bullshit started," snorted Rashied Ali, the rarely seen free-jazz icon who famously replaced Elvin Jones in John Coltrane's last group.
Born Robert Patterson in 1935, he converted during the civil-rights Sixties, when Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were assassinated and Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali. "Airports have been hassling me for years, but they know I'm from Philadelphia."
More of a surprise was to find him playing straight-ahead drums with a formidable young New York quintet.
While 25-year-old Seattle trumpeter Jumaane Smith was blowing like a young Woody Shaw and 31-year-old tenorist Lawrence Clark was reproducing Trane's early tone with unearthly accuracy, Ali's cymbals snapped out the tempo as fiercely as Art Blakey ever did. Not by coincidence; it was a Blakey T-shirt Ali wore onstage.
Dutch double-bassist Joris Teppe maintained a solid line while Chicagoan Greg Murphy showed the superb keyboard technique you only get by playing eight hours a day for about 15 years.
In two uncompromising sets, they played Frank Lowe's Sidewalks in Motion, Jaco Pastorius's Dania, Monk's Round Midnight (complete with Dizzy Gillespie's intro and outro), Cherokee and Don Cherry's Multi-Kulti, featuring the evening's only out-of-tempo interludes. Knightsbridge will never hear heavier modern jazz than this. [4 out of 5 stars

- By Jack Massarik

The Phoenix
Swarthmore College’s Online Newspaper
November 9, 2006
Night of unforgettable jazz acts at Olde Club

Saturday, Nov. 5, was just one of those “massive nights” of which The Hold Steady would be proud. With so many great performances on campus, Swarthmore was at its weekend best. Students who crowded into Olde Club around 9 p.m. were hugely rewarded with an out-of-this-world performance by The Rashied Ali Quintet with guests The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and Swarthmore students Mark Loria ’08, Caleb Ward ’07 and Dan Perelstein ’09.
The show, coordinated by Olde Club Director Melissa Phruksachart ’07, satiated an appetite for variety in Swarthmore’s live music scene, “I wanted to do something different. We hadn’t had jazz at Olde Club,” said Phruksachart. “I thought it would work really well, because it’s a very intimate space.”
Loria, Ward and Perelstein set the stage for a jazzy night at Olde Club with compositions written a mere two weeks ago and rehearsed only a few times since. Mark Skaden ’08 responded to the trio’s performance, “it seemed perfectly on the level with the whole performance that evening.”
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was something of an homage to the Olde Club experience, preparing the space with some accustomed indie sensibilities for a jazz great. At times bizarre but always compelling, the quintet includes two tenor saxophones, one alto saxophone, one guitar and a drum set. Their set featured competing saxophone lines converging in and out of harmony while establishing a sonic barrier which their rhythm section constantly struggled to rupture. Competing elements often devolved into carefully orchestrated noise before instantaneously reassembling into unison and harmony. Each element, dissonance and consonance, brought power and focus to the other.
Impressively, their drummer for the evening, Pete, had never played with the group before, but was seamlessly doing his part with two drumsticks and a rope of whistles. Other high-pitched sounds were added by Eugene Lee, the alto saxophonist, who on several occasions played his mouthpiece disconnected from the body of his saxophone. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was intense, bold and energetic. They took Olde Club for a ride.
The Rashied Ali Quintet took the stage, with Rashied Ali on the drums, Jumaane Smith playing trumpet, Lawrence Clark on tenor saxophone, Joris Teepe on bass and Greg Murphy playing piano.
Rashied Ali is a true innovator and jazz legend, and his career is marked by gigs with some of jazz’s biggest names. Ali drummed alongside Elvin Jones for John Coltrane before replacing Jones as Coltrane’s singular timekeeper. Ali also has played with the great bassist Sonny Rollins and more recently the saxophonist Sonny Fortune. The Rashied Ali Quintet’s performance evidenced his quintet’s impressive prowess, their youthful energy and veteran technique. Each chart followed a similar template beginning with a head that catapulted the listener into solos, removing members of the band until Rashied Ali was left to a drum solo before a captivated audience.
Loria was impressed by Rashied Ali’s performance. “He definitely delivered the goods,” he said. “This performance was much more jazzy than a lot of what he does.” It was a combination of these jazzier elements, oftentimes straightforward, driving swing that contrasted avant-garde impulses fighting to disrupt and entangle time. Ali’s solos highlighted these elements. He would seamlessly weave together a conception of time, utilizing the consistency of classical jazz while suspending fixed time during melodic fills. “I was very affected by it. I wanted to be as close to it as possible,” Skaden said. “It was one of the most spectacular drumming experiences I’ve ever had the chance to encounter.”
One of the most provocative numbers was one composed by bassist Joris Teepe, “Raw Fish.” One part crawling ballad and another part forceful swing, the composition was complexly layered with each instrument peeling away to find a walking bass line and complex melody within the greater bass line. The Rashied Ali Quintet command respect for their solos and songwriting, and most of all for their bold approach to jazz, at once progressive and retrospective.

- By Nick Gaw

Music review: Hot weekend of jazz lights up Rose City
Two storied drummers and other artists keep two critics busy for an entertaining two nights
Monday, October 23, 2006
MARTY HUGHLEY
The Oregonian

"I'd like to introduce you to the youngest member of our group," Javon Jackson said to a packed house Saturday at Jimmy Mak's. "On drums, Mr. Jimmy Cobb."
He was joking a bit. A revered veteran most noted for his 1958-63 stint with Miles Davis, Cobb in fact was the elder statesman -- and not just of Jackson's quartet but of a busy weekend of jazz in Portland.
Fans of the great improvisational art had some choices to make. Cobb made Jackson's two-night stand in the Pearl District hot spot a must-see event, but there was cross-town competition from another storied drummer, Rashied Ali, playing at the Blue Monk on Belmont. Meanwhile LV's Uptown boasted out-of-town guests who were leading piano trios, with Minnesotan Laura Caviani on Friday and New Yorker Roberta Piket on Saturday. And the many talented local players weren't taking the weekend off, either.
It was a good time for two critics to take a swing through the jazz scene. Lynn Darroch and I each hit Javon Jackson and Rashied Ali, but on different nights, then we went our separate ways, to catch as much as possible.
Keyed to the piano
The big names belonged to drummers. Though Jackson, a saxophonist, was the bandleader, the great draw to his gig was the rare treat of hearing Cobb, an exemplar of a classic style of hard-bop timekeeping. Ali, most famous for his role alongside John Coltrane on the avant-garde classic "Interstellar Space," brought some historical gravity of his own.
Yet, as things turned out, the pianists were really the key.
That might not have been the perception at the weekend's outset, with Caviani's performance early Friday evening. She played standard mainstream repertoire with a pleasingly nimble touch and well-shaped, melodically sure phrasing. But despite the very able support of Portlanders Gary Hobbs on drums (who added an earthy rhythmic push to Horace Silver's "Peace," hand-drumming on cojon, a resonant wooden box that doubled as his seat) and Scott Steed on bass, the music failed to convey much drive or personality.
Surely the LV's setting, its grayish light and dull decor suited more to sales-convention continental breakfasts than to a swinging night of music, didn't help.
The low-ceilinged basement of the Blue Monk isn't posh, either, but it's a more conducive container for musical adventure. At times in Friday's two sets, Ali's quintet pushed the envelope on consonance and structure, especially in a version of James "Blood" Ulmer's "M.O." that peaked with a furious yet trancelike solo from the drummer. But the music was most rewarding when most grounded, as in "Lorraine," a fine ballad by the group's 'Trane-besotted saxophonist, Lawrence Clark, and a spirited take on the classic "Cherokee."
In most cases, it was pianist Greg Murphy who made the difference, injecting light and linearity in what often was overly dense and abstract music.
After the underdone and overheated extremes that Caviani and Ali represented Friday, the following night's sets by Jackson and company were as tasty as Baby Bear's porridge, a superb balance between accessibility and expressive verve. The leader's tone was warm and inviting, Cobb's swinging time was imperturbable, and his solos delivered greater focus and dynamic sense than Ali's. But again, it was the pianist who shone brightest, in this case George Cables, a canny vet whose improvisations sparkled with rhythmic drive and a keen sense of harmony.
-- Marty Hughley Masters and commanders
Command. The ability to take control of unaligned forces and transform them into a brilliant pattern. That's what pianist George Cables and drummer Jimmy Cobb brought to the stage Friday night as part of Javon Jackson's quartet.
Their mastery showed most dramatically on the set's weakest tune, the 1970s soul ballad "Where Is the Love." When the tenor saxophonist played the melody straight, it appeared rather flat compared with previous material such as "Whisper Not." But once in the hands of Cables, Cobb and journeyman bassist Nat Reeves, the tune acquired buoyancy and swinging syncopation. Cables found the blues in the song and set them free, while Cobb transformed the beat into a bouncy stroll.
Keeping his hands low, doing nothing flashy, Cobb's perfect time centered every song. After all, this is the legend who helped shape modern jazz with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery.
Cables, too, has been right-hand man for such stars as Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon and Joe Henderson. Now undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week, he nonetheless displayed great energy, piling up an ever-mounting string of notes toward the end of a verse until they seemed to topple forward into the next, leaving you still on your feet but exhilarated, as if you yourself had been tumbling.
At O'Connor's in Multnomah Village on Friday, the prolific bassist David Friesen and tenor saxophonist John Gross, took a risk. Exposed, without a chordal instrument to provide guide and cover, with just single notes and strings, they made challenging music sound full and satisfying. Heads of long gray hair bent seriously to the task, like watchmakers or weavers, Gross created an honest, human sound on tenor and Friesen contributed busy, full-bodied bass figures that made a spare, improvisational approach into something certain and compelling.
Saturday night at the University of Portland's Buckley Center Auditorium, the long-running series DePriest Family Jazz helped pass along the jazz tradition. In years past, Javon Jackson has been featured with drummer Akbar DePriest's band. This time the guest star was 29-year-old Portland trumpeter Farnell Newton, showing the torch has been passed successfully to another generation. Newton is a lyrical player in a classic jazz context, capable of matching the elegant musicianship displayed by bassist Ed Bennett and pianist Jof Lee.
The group closed with former Portland drummer Lawrence Williams' "Song to Lift the Human Spirit" -- a fitting choice, as DePriest is undergoing treatment for cancer, and the small audience came in part to honor the man who began his career on Central Avenue in Los Angeles when bebop giants roamed the street and gave the young drummer a chance to learn, as he's done for up-and-coming players ever since.
Playing Dionysus to Cobb's Apollo, drummer Rashied Ali's quintet was deep into late-period John Coltrane territory by the second number Saturday night at the Blue Monk. With the drummer's crisply articulated, decisive snare shots kicking the rhythm into shards, the young trumpet player squealing into the upper register and the tenor sax running up and down scales, the music's forward motion and high energy was irresistible to the packed house of whooping fans. Pounding a full drum kit -- overtones ringing from the tom-toms! -- Ali offered not the measured groove of mainstream jazz but a cathartic blast of controlled chaos.

- Lynn Darroch
©2006 The Oregonian

The New York Times January 6, 1988

Chris' Jazz Cafe - November 22, 2008

Rashied Ali made his second visit to Chris’ this year, reflecting ownership’s wish to include some avant-leaning stuff into their mix. In fact, they have been after Ars Nova Workshop to program some action there but so far the response has been cool. Ali, who lives part-time in Philly, was masterful in laying down polyrhythms, tingling cymbal swagger and classic in-the-pocket percussion. At times, he sounded as grounded as local hero Mickey Roker.

His young band consisted of Josh Evans (tpt), Lakecia Benjamin (as), Greg Murphy (p) and Joris Teepe (b). Evans and Benjamin took turns blowing red hot flames while Murphy revealed many layers to his playing, although most of his time was spent rocketing around the keys. His solo during the second set’s “Cuttin Corners,” a nasty, spit-fire attack without the benefit of a safety net, was a musical peak for the night…

- Ken Weiss - Cadence Magazine - January, 2009

Charlie Parker Jazz Festival: Cool Jazz in Harlem
By WILL FRIEDWALD | August 25, 2008

There are always plenty of people to thank at free outdoor concerts such as Saturday's 16th annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival — producers, sponsors, press partners (in this case the City Parks Foundation, Bloomberg, Time Warner, and WBGO-FM). But only one entity deserves credit for the success of this year's event, and that's the Big Weather Guy in the Sky, who saw to it that the temperature in Harlem's Marcus Garvey Park was bearable and the humidity was low...

...For the next act, we transitioned from the high-energy trio to an even higher-energy quintet. The drummer Rashied Ali is best known for his explosive percussion work with John Coltrane's final, avant-garde ensemble of 1965-67. But Mr. Ali's current quintet is a direct extension of the more user-friendly music of Coltrane's earlier "classic" quartet. It is the same band, playing some of the same music, as the one featured on Mr. Ali's 2006 albums "Judgment Day Vol. 1" and "Judgment Day Vol. 2," including Lawrence Clark on tenor saxophone, Greg Murphy on piano, Joris Teepe on bass, with the addition of a second saxophonist, Lakecia Benjamin, on alto.

The set consisted of two deliriously fast numbers: "Skane's Refrain," which seemed inspired by "Impressions," and "Liberia," Coltrane's own modal reduction of "A Night in Tunisia." Separating the two was a ballad, Mr. Teepe's very pretty "Almost Lucky," which gave everyone a chance to cool down. Overall, this lineup plays very attractive outdoor jazz concert music — mostly modal, with occasional free-jazz excursions, particularly in Mr. Clark's tenor solos, which utilize squeaks and honks as a kind of stagecraft. Likewise, Ms. Benjamin's tone seemed slightly out of tune (in the manner of the late Jackie McLean), but she clearly knows how to ignite a festival crowd and drew wild applause for every solo.

New York Sun wfriedwald@nysun.com

Still Out There
Interstellar jazz legend Rashied Ali makes space for the next generation.
- by Shaun Brady
Published: Jan 15, 2008

Drummer Rashied Ali was the subject of one of the most famous mentorships in jazz history, thrust into the spotlight when he first supplemented and then replaced Elvin Jones in John Coltrane's band. Ali was there alongside the legendary saxophonist on his furthest explorations into the outer limits of his music, most notably as Trane's duet partner on the groundbreaking Interstellar Space.

So it's not entirely surprising that Ali has himself settled into something of a mentor's role, leading a quintet of strong young players. "I seem to get with younger people who are more interested in playing something different," Ali explains over the phone from his home, directly above the SoHo recording studio that formerly housed his mid-'70s loft club, Ali's Alley. "They listen to my old records and when they come, they're sort of prepared for me. I feel like the younger cats are the backbone of the music, so I try to contribute as much as I can to them to help them along like Trane helped me along."

Throughout the quintet's two CDs, Judgment Day Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, on the leader's own Survival Records, Ali's exuberant style is fully in evidence, driving the music forward with a combustible force that threatens to project the drummer straight out of his chair, laced with his omnipresent chattering cymbals. What may come as a surprise is that the music they produce is not the burning free jazz with which Ali is most closely associated, but far more straightahead hard bop, two sets of originals, obscure jazz tunes and a few standards.

"Actually, I've always played like that," Ali says. "Listen to Interstellar Space and the tunes that I did with Coltrane, I'm always dealing with a pulse. Some people think I just throw everything up in the air, helter-skelter boom, and let it come down like it is, but I never really played like that."

Ali's quintet was originally formed with fellow undersung free-jazz pioneer Frank Lowe, but when the tenor saxophonist passed away in 2003, the group transformed into its current configuration, resembling Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in its structure of a veteran drummer leading a group of younger acolytes.

Required Reading
A.D. Amorosi's 2000 interview with Ali.

"People are putting me into a bag like that now," Ali admits. "They're calling me the new Art Blakey, because I guess I'm a senior citizen now and I've got all these kids playing with me. But I love playing with younger cats because their minds are open and they're willing to take a chance with the music. I agree with Blakey, I'm going to stay with the young people, man, because they keep me young."

Born in 1935 in Philly (where he still has a house), Ali got his start playing with local rhythm and blues bands, later graduating to more straightahead jazz groups, but everything changed when first heard the burgeoning free jazz movement.

"When I heard cats like Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, I started trying to change my direction," Ali recalls. "I said, 'Wow, there's something else I need to be dealing with.'"

With his brother Muhammad, Ali formed a double trio in emulation of the Ornette Coleman double quartet that had recorded Free Jazz. But the Ali brothers found little acceptance in Philadelphia at that time. "Even the musicians started looking at me all funny," he says. "Everybody was going, 'What is this shit you're doing now, man?' But I just committed myself to doing that."

In 1963, Ali made the move to New York, where he fell in with more sympathetic thinkers such as Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp and Marion Brown. Two years later, he found himself in Coltrane's band. Coltrane impressed Ali with his fanatical devotion to his music, applying himself with such zeal that even discussing it 40 years later, Ali chastised himself for going a few days without practicing.

"He definitely was a searcher, man," Ali says. "He played all the time. In the dressing room before the gig he'd be playing, and by the time we'd get on the bandstand he'd be wet from practicing in the back room. It really made a hell of an impression on me. He wasn't a sports fanatic, he wasn't into basketball, football, baseball, none of that shit. He didn't even know who Willie Mays was. He was just unbelievably into what he was into, and I've never seen anybody else who could do that. That's crazy, man, to just put all of your marbles in one basket, but that's what he did."

s_brady@citypaper.net
Rashied Ali Quintet plays Sat., Jan. 19, 8 and 10 p.m., $20 (first show), $15 (second show), Chris' Jazz Café, 1421 Sansom St., 215-568-3131, chrisjazzcafe.com.

Drummer for Coltrane keeps jazz legacy alive
Bryan Gibel - 10/9/07
Daily Lobo - The University of New Mexico

John Coltrane died in 1967, but his music lived on at an Albuquerque festival held over the weekend. The Creative Soundspace Fall Festival at the Outpost Performance Space celebrated Coltrane's mark on the U.S. and abroad. It focused on Coltrane as a composer and saxophonist who still impacts jazz today, Outpost Executive Director Tom Guralnick said. "He's one of the most important people in the history of jazz," Guralnick said. "He has a legacy of pushing the music forward to unexplored territories. That was 40 years ago, and his music still stands out as something that remains unmatched, fresh and innovative to this day.

"The festival kicked off Thursday with a performance by the Rashied Ali Quintet. Ali was one of Coltrane's drummers during the two years preceding his death. Ali and his group played two sets to a full house, featuring originals, extended improvisations and avant-garde jazz compositions. While only a few of the songs were written by Coltrane, Ali said his influence permeated the group's performance.

"John Coltrane was my guru, man," Ali said. "He was the father of this whole movement that we were playing, you know. He's always been that inspiration that kind of drives you to do things. "In his later years, Coltrane was known for playing frenetic, freewheeling improvisations that some critics found busy and inaccessible.

During his Outpost set, Ali sometimes played so fast that his drumsticks resembled hummingbirds hovering above his kit. Ali's polyrhythmic playing was a multidimensional sonic onslaught, incorporating beats that were simultaneously calm and thunderous, staccato and prolonged. But the music balanced structured composition and free improvisation, Ali said. "I really feel like I can play any song and make it compatible with what I'm doing, like, the song is the vehicle, more or less, just to get me into the groove," he said. "Sometimes I'm just trying to play all the music at the same time and just move it around. One minute, it sounds like it's swinging. One minute, it sounds like it's open. One minute, it sounds like it's neither here nor there."

Ali was accompanied by Lawrence Clark on saxophone, Josh Evans on trumpet, Greg Murphy on piano and Joris Teepi on bass. During an interpretation of Coltrane's "Liberia," Murphy's piano stylings stood out during a 10-minute duet with Ali. At times, Murphy struck the keys with his whole arm. At other times, he used a single finger on each hand to tap out rapid-fire notes. Ali said playing with his quintet's younger musicians keeps him at the forefront of avant-garde improvisation. "They're the cats who have the momentum," Ali said. "They try to play what they feel, not what someone else told them to play. And I like that kind of freedom."

Guralnick said the festival, held in fall and spring, doesn't always focus on jazz. Its purpose is to highlight innovative music of all forms. Coltrane continues to inspire innovative music and the evolution of avant-garde jazz, Ali said. "Things change. Right in the music, in midstream, they change," Ali said. "You keep going and you never know what you can find. We are just trying to make a difference in the music, man. That's it."

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday Afternoon: The Rains Let Up!
Posted by: Jerry Karp

In the Bill Berry Night Club venue, venerable avant-bop drummer Rashied Ali is holding forth with a fiery quintet.

Ali, of course, is one of the trailblazers of the new wave jazz movement of the 60s, and was the drummer for some of John Coltrane's most far-reaching late-career explorations. I am primed for a full-on explosion of in-your-face jazz and this band is just the ticket.

Ali's attack is still a full-throttle rocket blast, on fire but without a trace of bombast. The band, led by and excellent horn tandem of saxophonist Lawrence Clark and trumpeter Josh Evans, offers high-octane post bop, which, again, is just what I am looking for.

A number Ali introduces as the title track to the band's new CD, "Judgment Day," is a great example of what the band has to offer. It's a fast-tempo cooker, and Evans steps forward with an extended solo. Evans' ideas fly fast and furious. He uses the highest ranges of his horn with aplomb, but judiciously, only to add emphasis at the end of an idea.

The solo is relentless but rarely repetitive, and when Evans steps aside for Clark, you feel he has still not exhausted everything he has to say here. Clark, though, takes up the gauntlet quickly, throwing clouds of notes across the hall, squealing and groaning only just enough to craft mid-stream commentary on his own hard charges.

Pianist Greg Murphy sweeps in next, with flowing, two-handed flashes alternating heat and cool.

Ah, yes. This is what I needed.
jazzwest.com/blogs

Monterey Notebook: Judgment Day
Saturday, 4:10 p.m. The Night Club - Bill Berry Stage
[September 22, 2007 Monterey Jazz Festival] - By Forrest Dylan Bryant

Down at the teeming Night Club, the Rashied Ali Quintet has worked itself into a frenzy, the air pulsing with raw electric energy from Lawrence Clark’s tenor saxophone. Condensing into a tunneling postbop burn, the ensemble greases the skids for Josh Evans’ ringing trumpet solo as a knot of young hepcats standing in the back of the room looks on and nods. The conflagration on stage soon spreads to ignite Greg Murphy’s piano, which cuts through a maze of maddeningly fast notes like a laser beam.
Smiling, Ali drives the breakneck pace from his drum kit. But it seems to be less a matter of his pushing the band than pulling them up to his natural pace. Lifting off into a solo of his own, Ali tempers the thunder with prodding, exploratory pauses, as if seeking to define the underlying structure of his titanic rhythms.
It takes the [better] part of half an hour to work through the tune, and the band quickly calms things down for "You’re Reading My Mind," a mysterious ballad by bassist Joris Teepe. Formed by layers of melancholy, Teepe’s solo on this tune carries a tenderness that might have seemed impossible only minutes before.
"Judgment Day," another 30-minute epic, enters with a simple fanfare before launching into a hard 1960s-style thrust. Again the intensity rises to shattering levels, and the dynamite horn solos soon form a sort of force field around the Night Club stage, making everything outside seem almost irrelevant.

Monterey Jazz Festival 2007
Straight Ahead and Strive For Tone - A Jazz Blog

Saturday. Great shows, that I saw. As you who have ever been there, know that when you have arena seats sometimes you don't get to the outer venues. Even though I'm beginning to think that the outer venues, seeming to be relegated to the supposed "lesser" acts (deemed so by the producers of the festival, not me) has much better music and it wouldn't matter at all (and I'd save A BUNCH of $$$) if I just surrendered the arena seats. Two highlights for me (three if you count the blue sky, sun, and warmth that finally broke out mid-afternoon). Rashied Ali's Quintet (this guy who was reading from a script that lauded the merits of Rashied's history and wonderful involvement with Coltrane and so many others..then at the end introduced him as "Ali Rashied", and you knew immediately the guy never heard a single note of Rashied's music). Rashied's group was tight, always right on time (from a rhythm POV), really great writing by all, and extremely energetic and exciting.

LAKE GEORGE JAZZ WEEKEND
Shepard Park, Lake George, NY
September 15, 2007 - By J Hunter

FREEDOM FROM FEAR: To some, 'Free Jazz' means sheets of ear-splitting cacophony that makes as much sense as a fractal painting, and takes just as long to decipher. Rashied Ali's set sounded nothing like the previous description, but it was 'Free Jazz' - free from fear, free from boundaries, and free to explore. Exploration is old hat to Ali: Aside from his time with John Coltrane, the phenomenal drummer has saddled up with the likes of Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane, and James 'Blood' Ulmer, so Ali's young quintet had an experienced guide as to the musical unknown. Armed with a set of tunes from Ali's latest disc Judgment Day Vol. 1 and 2 (Survival Records, 2006), the Ali Quintet used a hard-bop take on Jaco Pastorius' "Dania" to launch the festivities - and when I say 'launch', I'm speaking in NASA terms.

Josh Evans' trumpet was as bright as the sunshine flashing through the trees, and Lawrence Clark blew volcanic tenor throughout, particularly on his composition "Judgment Day." Bassist Joris Teepe was playing with a torn rotator cuff - an injury he incurred a month before - but you couldn't have told, given the wonderfully rich solos he served up with seeming ease as he played with the band for the first time in a month. As for Ali, he is a card-carrying member of that hallowed fraternity of drummers over age 70 that can tear it up like an offending paper bag. It's unclear whether Ali inspires the band or the band inspires Ali, but the end result is just the same, and just as epic.

Jazz hits Lake George
REVIEW - By Mike Curtin
Special to The Post-Star
Saturday, September 15, 2007

A revered figure in modern jazz, drummer Rashied Ali led his quintet through 75 minutes of hard-charging "hard bop." The skeletal refrains of Jaco Pastorious’ "Dania" were stretched for nearly 20 minutes as each member of the quintet was accorded ample solo time, including Ali who at the age of 71 displayed a level of speed, dexterity and ingenuity that percussionists a third his age would die to possess.

"Judgment Day," the title track of the group’s first disc, was equally expansive. It was the means for saxophonist Lawrence Clark (also the composition’s creator) to unfurl wave after wave of reed-splitting ascents to just Ali’s resounding accompaniment, not unlike Sonny Rollins or Ali’s past bandmate over four decade ago, John Coltrane.

Don Cherry’s elegant "Multi-Culti" culminated Ali and his band’s performance, One of the festival’s strongest sets in recent memory, it was jazz at its most inventive, freed from convention, but firmly rooted in its storied past.

PERFORMING ARTS
Washington Post - Monday, September 10, 2007
Rashied Ali - By Chris Richards

Rashied Ali is the drummer who snapped the pendulum -- a free jazz legend who refused the role of timekeeper in favor of improvised clatter.
He created some monumental noise with Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Don Cherry and Albert Ayler, but made his boldest mark in 1967 when he joined John Coltrane for one of the final recording sessions of the saxophonist's life. Later released as the album "Interstellar Space," the collaboration yielded a series of stunning duets with Ali's righteous racket jostling against John Coltrane's cosmic braying.
Stylistically, the 72-year-old Ali returned to earth decades ago, but at Twins Jazz on Friday night, his drumming still flickered with the unhinged energy that made him his name. You could hear it on John Coltrane's "Liberia," as Ali's quintet toggled between traditional swing and energetic spontaneity.
Ali kept his mouth clamped shut for most of the performance (which included a smoky take on the old Thelonious Monk chestnut " 'Round Midnight"), but not during James "Blood" Ulmer's "Theme From Captain Black." As his quintet ventured into its wildest playing of the night, the drummer bent those creased lips into a smile. Forty years after revolutionizing rhythm, Ali still seems happiest in the chaos.

Multi-directional Masterclass
Rashied Ali Quintet
Pizza on the Park
Saturday July 21, 2007

"True legend" in jazz circles is a frequently-used cliche. This time it's true. Rashied Ali is the man who pioneered an approach to drumming which threw out the traditional idea of the drummer as human metronome. His work with John Coltrane in the great saxophonist's final years is a high point of avant-garde creativity. It was Coltrane who coined the term "multi-directional" to describe Ali's loose, free style of rhythmic propulsion.

His current touring quintet with Greg Murphy (piano), Joris Teepe (bass), Josh Evans (trumpet) and Lawrence Clark (tenor saxophone) is playing a style which combines modern post-bop with Ali's trademark free jazz. During two hours at Pizza Express they performed only six tunes, averaging 20-30 minutes in length.

Every band member was given space for long improvisations on Jaco Pastorius's composition "Dania", which kicked off the night. Ali's revolutionary technique was evident from the start as he strayed in and out of timekeeping with an emphasis on snare drum usage. Second on the bill was the Monk classic "'Round Midnight" and the set ended with the ominous, fanfare-like melody of Coltrane's "Liberia". This was the first point at which the bass and piano dropped out, leaving Ali alone with Clark on saxophone. It was almost like two simultaneous solos, highly reminiscent of Coltrane's final studio album "Interstellar Space" which is a series of duets with Ali. The diners didn't know what had hit them; Saturday night in Knightsbridge is usually more genteel. It was a fitting tribute to 'Trane, with this concert coming days after the 40th anniversary of his death.

The second set featured two more standards and ended with "If only I had a Gig", the band's take on songs from The Wizard of Oz. There were further moments of sax-drums duelling, bassist Teepe produced one of the most melodic solos of the evening, playing on his own for several minutes, and Evans on trumpet also impressed with screamingly passionate lines.

Rashied Ali may be nearly 70, but his creative instincts continue to develop. His work with this young lineup constantly throws up new challenges and his solos burst with complexity. Hopefully this will carry on for some years to come.

- By Frederick Bernas

Rashied Ali Quintet at Pizza on the Park, 20/7/07
Rashied Ali (drums), Josh Evans (Trumpet), Lawrence Clark
(Tenor Sax), Greg Murphy (Piano), Joris Teepe (Bass)

It’s been a good month for Big Historical Names; after Ornette Coleman, and Cecil Taylor, now: Rashied Ali, with his Quintet, at the Pizza on the Park. And a bit of a change to get to see a big name american act in a much more intimate venue. Rashied Ali probably isn’t as big as Ornette or Taylor/Braxton, but Interstellar Space is one of the most important (and frequently played) records I’ve ever bought (being as it was one of the first sounds to push me into complete musical Freedom)… and like the big anticipated RFH acts earlier in the month, he didn’t let me down.
First off: a word about Pizza on the Park… My first visit to a ‘proper’ London jazz club (basement, no windows, waitress service)… Why haven’t I checked out this place before? Great atmosphere (although, also, in parts, a bit cliquey, and theme-parky). Pizza on the Park is essentially a Pizza Express gig, so the same just-slightly disappointing pizzas, but ok… However, the service itself was really chronic, which was seriously annoying for the sort of place where you can’t go and just dig it out yourself. Although probably suffering from single-diner blind-spot syndrome, would have been nice if my waiter could have actually bothered to get me at least one alchoholic beverage during the four hours I was sat there (or a desert! or a cheque at the end!). Anyway, not wanting to put too much emphasis on this point, but it was a bit of a downer, and makes me feel like it’s not really the sort of place I’d want to visit unless I knew the band was going to be great.

The music:

Rashied Ali was playing with most of the quintet off his Judgement Day record (I need clarification over the trumpeter). Fairly typical feel overall; the sort of contemporary hard-bop sourced music that most of the American Names are probably going back to, to mostly bide their time… A kind of broad Blue Note, sixties/early seventies vibe. But totally solid. The trumpeter was playing the most Inside, but with really powerful lines. Maybe it was because he was playing straight into my face, but… trumpet usually leaves me wondering why?; this was cool. Lawrence Clark was an impressive soloist, on tenor, fast runs all around his horn, overblowing at the top and at the bottom, with the odd strains of Coltrane seeping through (that’s a cliché; Clark was not, and really had his own sound). At the same time, not just going through motions, he had a solid grasp on the melodic construction (in fact, I think he was responsible for quite a few of the band’s actual charts and tunes). Towards the end of the second set (possibly on a performance of Judgement Day itself), the band pulled back for a time leaving a Clark–Ali duo, and the tumbling (and unpredictable) sheets of sound moved closest to JC territory. That little part, probably the highlight of the night. The bass was a little lacklustre, but then he was having to make do with a slightly battered electric bass, having an even more battered double bass lying in a heap somewhere on the tarmac at Heathrow airport. The pianist, Greg Murphy, played formative lines, freaking into some unexpected blast crashes every now and then, showing signs of something more free… Underpinning all this, of course, Rashied Ali. The rest of the band may have been playing on the Inside, but Ali stuck to free scattering pulses, firing out shots here and there in patterns that were only just obviously related to the group form, bringing the staid-in-principle choice of set list into something, really, Else. It was amazing how powerful his sound was hitting me, all from barely perceptible motions of the sticks; it was almost like artillery going off. Fairly unique, I can’t remember seeing any drummer play like him, and he was completely and utterly mesmerizing. Although my Rashied Ali record collection is generally far more free than this, and the traditionality of the group was slightly suprising, it all worked brilliantly, with Ali’s own freedom drive making it all that little bit more special.

- Unknown reviewer

Rashied Ali - Interstellar Overdrive

As John Coltrane moved to the last phase of his career embracing the adventurous spirit of the New York avant garde, drummer Rashied Ali was there at the heart of his new thinking with his ’multi-directional’ drumming and non standard approach that altered the course of Coltrane’s music as it reached its great peak on the album Interstellar Space. Since Coltrane’s death Rashied Ali’s career has, like the course of the avant garde itself, seen its peaks and troughs alternating with periods of obscurity and glimpses of revived interest in this unique musician’s approach. Ahead of a run of dates in London this month, Rashied talks to Kevin Le Gendre

In the wake of 9/11 the African-American poet Sharrif Simmons found that waspish paranoia over anything remotely related to Islam affected his working life. Promoters in the States were reluctant to book a performer with a first name bearing no evident Christian connotations. Ironically Sharrif translates from Arabic as ’Honest.’

Some might say that the name Rashied Ali is even more liable to arouse suspicion. Not only is this a Muslim appellation, it is also distinctly close to that of Muhammad Ali, the civil rights and sports icon who was once a sword-sized thorn in the flesh of the American establishment. ’You know I’ve had this name my whole life,’ says Ali, the 72-year-old drummer who started playing professionally in the 60s and who perchance also has a brother called Muhammad. ’Since 9/11 it’s been kind of weird in airports. They double check me and stuff like that but after they find out that I was born in America, my father and grandfather too and I’m a black American, I don’t get hassled as much.

’ But at the same time it’s difficult after what went down. I tend to be careful about where I go because I just don’t wanna be yanked off a bus or a train or something because of my name.’
It was actually back in the mid-40s that Ali’s father decided to change his own name, and that of his son Robert Patterson to Rashied Ali. When Ali joined John Coltrane’s band in the mid-60s he carried two passports. ’Back then they used to double check me and talk to me a lot,’ Ali recalls on the phone from New York.

’John had said to me once when he went to get my passport ’Do you want it in Robert Patterson or Rashied Ali?’ I said ’I think I’ll do it in Rashied Ali’ and never looked back. You know John had a Muslim name too but he never used it.’

Ali’s first hand knowledge of one of the great icons of jazz as well the vital contribution he made to the final phase of Coltrane’s career - when the saxophonist was at his most uncompromisingly ’out’ - make the drummer both an important repository of historical information and a beacon of inspiration to a new generation of artists.

- This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #110

Rashied Ali Quintet

First achieving widespread recognition as the drummer with John Coltrane during his groundbreaking performances and recordings of 1965–67, Rashied Ali has remained one of the most original percussionists in jazz. For the past five years, he has led a quintet that includes Jumaane Smith on trumpet (a young man who “plays with fiery conviction and the technical virtuosity of a seasoned veteran”), Lawrence Clark on tenor sax (“his tenor tone is lush and enhances the allusion”), Greg Murphy on piano (“invokes the swing at the heart of Thelonious Monk’s rhetoric and rhythm”) and Joris Teepe’s (“steady walking”) bass. Owing more to Ali’s hard bop roots than to his familiar free jazz explorations, the quintet recently released Judgment Day, a two-CD set which has received uniform critical acclaim. “These are fantastic discs that exist inside the tradition while offering repeated opportunities for its fresh appraisal.” (Marc Medwin, Dusted.) “A fine blowing date with intelligently composed charts built around Ali’s uniquely cliché-free personal style.” (All About Jazz) “Though this band rarely plays outside of New York City, this is one of the more potent working quintets in jazz today.” (JazzTimes)

At Avant-Garde Jazz Series, Rashied Ali and a Reunion
February 13, 2007 The New York Times

The Sculptured Sounds Music Festival adheres to an appealingly pure-hearted ideal. Organized and anchored by the bassist Reggie Workman, it presents adventurous jazz groups every Sunday night in February. The concerts take place at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Midtown Manhattan, familiar to a certain breed of New Yorker as the site of countless jazz memorial services. That sounds morbid, but it didn’t feel that way on Sunday. Well, maybe just at first, as a quiet, expectant rustle could be heard in the pews.
Notably, those pews were nearly full despite the Grammy Awards, which were on television. According to Mr. Workman, this attendance was in stark contrast to the previous Sunday’s concert, which competed with another broadcast event, the Super Bowl. (Take those comparative results and draw your own conclusions about jazz fans.) Add that the audience was not only robust but also diverse — in sex, race and age — and you have the kind of turnout that would make any producer happy.
Musically, the evening was a mixed bag. Its high points were very high, its low points were fairly low, and there was a lot of moderate stuff in between. The evening, thankfully, yielded mostly positive results and had enough propulsion to shake off whatever wasn’t working.
The headliner was Great Friends, a group that included Mr. Workman. (He makes no pretense of objectivity as a producer, appearing on each of the festival’s installments.) Formed in the 1980s by the drummer Billy Hart, the reunited ensemble featured its charter members: Mr. Hart and Mr. Workman, as well as the tenor saxophonist Billy Harper and the pianist Stanley Cowell. A later member, the alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune, had bowed out at the last minute, Mr. Workman said.
After getting off to a shaky start with the calypsolike “East Harlem Nostalgia,” the group delivered one of the evening’s standout moments. It was “Equipoise,” an anthem by Mr. Cowell with a leaping-interval motif. It was an ideal showcase for Mr. Cowell, who fashioned a saloon-style introduction and later improvised a more ardent stream of arpeggios and cascades.
Mr. Harper took a similarly stellar turn on “Insight,” a breakneck number composed by Mr. Hart with a chord progression borrowed from “Autumn Leaves.” Mr. Harper’s solo was a relentless sweep of eighth notes, each crisply articulated despite the daunting tempo. In the rhythm section, Mr. Workman and Mr. Hart made their frantic swing feel less so, shifting their accents to create clear spaces whenever the music needed to breathe.
During an earlier performance slot, the drummer Rashied Ali applied the same strategy to an almost comically turbocharged rendition of “Joshua,” a Victor Feldman song associated with Miles Davis. Mr. Ali, best known as the chief percussionist in the squalling late-period groups of John Coltrane, was leading a quintet featuring Jumaane Smith on trumpet and Antoine Roney on tenor saxophone.
Defying his reputation for fearsome avant-gardism, Mr. Ali drove his group in a hard-bop direction; the reference point seemed to be Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. This was the case not only on “Shied Indeed,” a crackling opener by Mr. Smith, but also “Saturn,” a movement from “Interstellar Space,” the duet album Coltrane made with Mr. Ali. It was a strange translation; Mr. Ali seemed intent on normalizing something treasured precisely for its utter lack of compromise.

- By NATE CHINEN

Rashied Ali Quintet
Pizza on the Park, London
From the October 2006 issue of Jazzwise Magazine

Billed as “Rashied Ali” Coltrane’s last drummer”, the saxophonist is inevitably the ghost at this banquet. You have to remind yourself that music such as this is as old as 12-minute guitar solos and liquid light shows. How do you avoid turning it into a Lincoln Center Museum piece? Rashied Ali’s answer is simple, play it like it’s now, like life depends on it and that’s just what his band did for a good-size audience on the last night of a three date run at this excellent, up-market club. It was hard to decide what was most impressive about this group. Tenorist Lawrence Clark has listened well to Trane but unlike his peers has gone deep into the giant’s late period as well and trumpeter Jumaane Smith plays as if he’s absorbed it all from Louis and Henry “Red” Allen to Don Cherry.
On James “Blood” Ulmer’s Theme For Captain Black’, the two horns soloed simultaneously, weaving around each other like two prize-fighters, while pianist Greg Murphy threw these fantastic tone clusters in to his solo on ‘Ulmer’s Thing For Joe’ that were totally “out” yet rhythmically and dynamically in keeping with the piece. Bassist Joris Teepe is less obviously outstanding but his solo on Dolphy’s ‘245’ was rhythmically adventurous and he anchors this craft magnificently, while his mid-paced composition ‘Flight 643’ swung beautifully. But time and again, you were drawn back to the man behind the kit that was where it all seemed to begin. Loose-limbed, constantly shifting patterns, kaleidoscopes of sound, distant thunder, strange accents but perfect time. Always maintaining momentum but never resorting to the obvious, Rashied Ali was inspired and inspiring.

- Duncan Heining

Seattle Times October 27. 2006 (Earshot Jazz Festival)

The hometown team gave a hearty welcome to Roosevelt grad Jumaane Smith, back from New York to play at The Triple Door Tuesday with drummer Rashied Ali. His set of originals, some written by guitarist James "Blood" Ulmer, bristled with brash urgency, puncturing the skin of post-bop decorum with fierce rhythms and warbling cries. Tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark was the highlight, especially when he and Ali chewed tenaciously on a phrase, recalling Ali's historic duets with John Coltrane. Smith, though exciting, was stuck in high gear.

Rashied Ali, Pizza on the Park, London
Published: August 27 2006

Rashied Ali’s reputation still hangs on being the drummer who played with even higher levels of energy and rhythmic abstraction than Elvin Jones, his predecessor with the legendary saxophonist John Coltrane’s “classic quartet”. Ali’s rhythmic onslaught removed the last traces of jazz’ traditional metronomic pulses, and is credited with propelling Coltrane into the further reaches of free-form jazz during the saxophonist’s final years – Ali joined Coltrane in 1965, two years before his death.
Though Ali’s playing with John Coltrane dispensed with a regular metronomic beat, he never turned his back on the energy and pulse that lies at the heart of the jazz tradition, and his ability to swing in the traditional sense should never have been in doubt. Now aged 71 and with a regular working group, Ali still provides the energy to drive a young sax and trumpet front line, and over two well-received sets, captured the fire and commitment of more incendiary times.
Ali likes his soloists to dig deep into their reservoirs of inspiration and energy – both sets featured only three numbers, and of these two were relatively short original ballads, “Dania” a waltz in the first set and the emotionally astringent “You’re Reading my Mind” in the second. These come between extended versions of themes custom built for soloists to build tension that can be released into an urgent but tight swing.
The first set’s opening “Judgment Day”, title track of their current CD, used a menacing modal pedal to build tension, the second set’s “Shied Indeed” a keeningly harmonized counterpoint. Closing covers of “Joshua” and “Rhythm-A-Ning” also followed this pattern.
With the excellent Dutch bassist Joris Teepe moving telepathically round the beat in synchrony with Ali’s dead-centre timing, saxophonist Lawrence Clark was given ample room to showcase his declamatory tone, split harmonics and low note ululations, though it was the technical virtuosity, brash tone and soulful melodic flow of trumpeter Jumaane Smith that really impressed. [4 out of 5 stars]

- By Mike Hobart, Financial Times

BREAKING NEWS jazzwise.com
24.08.06: Rashied Ali blasts Pizza on the Park into space

London’s Pizza on the Park jazz club took a welcome left turn in its booking policy this week as Rashied Ali and his band completed three rare dates which blasted the club into outer space.
The ex-Coltrane drummer and his band, including hot newcomers Lawrence Clark, tenor sax, and Jumaane Smith, trumpet, alongside pianist Greg Murphy and bassist Joris Teepe, wasted little time in raising the performance to an intense, deeply spiritual level the likes of which had never been heard in this venue before. Ali took pieces by Eric Dolphy, James ‘Blood’ Ulmer and Don Cherry and reshaped them into sonic launch pads for Smith and Clark to soar deep into the stratosphere, climbing higher and higher over the drummer’s galvanic rolling thunder. Watch for an in-depth review in October’s Jazzwise, out on 29 September.

The Evening Standard August 21st, 2006
Rashied Ali Quintet
Pizza on the Park, SW1X 7LY (London, UK)
HEAVY GOING

"Listen, I was a Muslim long before all this bullshit started," snorted Rashied Ali, the rarely seen free-jazz icon who famously replaced Elvin Jones in John Coltrane's last group.
Born Robert Patterson in 1935, he converted during the civil-rights Sixties, when Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were assassinated and Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali. "Airports have been hassling me for years, but they know I'm from Philadelphia."
More of a surprise was to find him playing straight-ahead drums with a formidable young New York quintet.
While 25-year-old Seattle trumpeter Jumaane Smith was blowing like a young Woody Shaw and 31-year-old tenorist Lawrence Clark was reproducing Trane's early tone with unearthly accuracy, Ali's cymbals snapped out the tempo as fiercely as Art Blakey ever did. Not by coincidence; it was a Blakey T-shirt Ali wore onstage.
Dutch double-bassist Joris Teppe maintained a solid line while Chicagoan Greg Murphy showed the superb keyboard technique you only get by playing eight hours a day for about 15 years.
In two uncompromising sets, they played Frank Lowe's Sidewalks in Motion, Jaco Pastorius's Dania, Monk's Round Midnight (complete with Dizzy Gillespie's intro and outro), Cherokee and Don Cherry's Multi-Kulti, featuring the evening's only out-of-tempo interludes. Knightsbridge will never hear heavier modern jazz than this. [4 out of 5 stars

- By Jack Massarik

The Phoenix
Swarthmore College’s Online Newspaper
November 9, 2006
Night of unforgettable jazz acts at Olde Club

Saturday, Nov. 5, was just one of those “massive nights” of which The Hold Steady would be proud. With so many great performances on campus, Swarthmore was at its weekend best. Students who crowded into Olde Club around 9 p.m. were hugely rewarded with an out-of-this-world performance by The Rashied Ali Quintet with guests The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and Swarthmore students Mark Loria ’08, Caleb Ward ’07 and Dan Perelstein ’09.
The show, coordinated by Olde Club Director Melissa Phruksachart ’07, satiated an appetite for variety in Swarthmore’s live music scene, “I wanted to do something different. We hadn’t had jazz at Olde Club,” said Phruksachart. “I thought it would work really well, because it’s a very intimate space.”
Loria, Ward and Perelstein set the stage for a jazzy night at Olde Club with compositions written a mere two weeks ago and rehearsed only a few times since. Mark Skaden ’08 responded to the trio’s performance, “it seemed perfectly on the level with the whole performance that evening.”
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was something of an homage to the Olde Club experience, preparing the space with some accustomed indie sensibilities for a jazz great. At times bizarre but always compelling, the quintet includes two tenor saxophones, one alto saxophone, one guitar and a drum set. Their set featured competing saxophone lines converging in and out of harmony while establishing a sonic barrier which their rhythm section constantly struggled to rupture. Competing elements often devolved into carefully orchestrated noise before instantaneously reassembling into unison and harmony. Each element, dissonance and consonance, brought power and focus to the other.
Impressively, their drummer for the evening, Pete, had never played with the group before, but was seamlessly doing his part with two drumsticks and a rope of whistles. Other high-pitched sounds were added by Eugene Lee, the alto saxophonist, who on several occasions played his mouthpiece disconnected from the body of his saxophone. The Abraham Lincoln Brigade was intense, bold and energetic. They took Olde Club for a ride.
The Rashied Ali Quintet took the stage, with Rashied Ali on the drums, Jumaane Smith playing trumpet, Lawrence Clark on tenor saxophone, Joris Teepe on bass and Greg Murphy playing piano.
Rashied Ali is a true innovator and jazz legend, and his career is marked by gigs with some of jazz’s biggest names. Ali drummed alongside Elvin Jones for John Coltrane before replacing Jones as Coltrane’s singular timekeeper. Ali also has played with the great bassist Sonny Rollins and more recently the saxophonist Sonny Fortune. The Rashied Ali Quintet’s performance evidenced his quintet’s impressive prowess, their youthful energy and veteran technique. Each chart followed a similar template beginning with a head that catapulted the listener into solos, removing members of the band until Rashied Ali was left to a drum solo before a captivated audience.
Loria was impressed by Rashied Ali’s performance. “He definitely delivered the goods,” he said. “This performance was much more jazzy than a lot of what he does.” It was a combination of these jazzier elements, oftentimes straightforward, driving swing that contrasted avant-garde impulses fighting to disrupt and entangle time. Ali’s solos highlighted these elements. He would seamlessly weave together a conception of time, utilizing the consistency of classical jazz while suspending fixed time during melodic fills. “I was very affected by it. I wanted to be as close to it as possible,” Skaden said. “It was one of the most spectacular drumming experiences I’ve ever had the chance to encounter.”
One of the most provocative numbers was one composed by bassist Joris Teepe, “Raw Fish.” One part crawling ballad and another part forceful swing, the composition was complexly layered with each instrument peeling away to find a walking bass line and complex melody within the greater bass line. The Rashied Ali Quintet command respect for their solos and songwriting, and most of all for their bold approach to jazz, at once progressive and retrospective.

- By Nick Gaw

Music review: Hot weekend of jazz lights up Rose City
Two storied drummers and other artists keep two critics busy for an entertaining two nights
Monday, October 23, 2006
MARTY HUGHLEY
The Oregonian

"I'd like to introduce you to the youngest member of our group," Javon Jackson said to a packed house Saturday at Jimmy Mak's. "On drums, Mr. Jimmy Cobb."
He was joking a bit. A revered veteran most noted for his 1958-63 stint with Miles Davis, Cobb in fact was the elder statesman -- and not just of Jackson's quartet but of a busy weekend of jazz in Portland.
Fans of the great improvisational art had some choices to make. Cobb made Jackson's two-night stand in the Pearl District hot spot a must-see event, but there was cross-town competition from another storied drummer, Rashied Ali, playing at the Blue Monk on Belmont. Meanwhile LV's Uptown boasted out-of-town guests who were leading piano trios, with Minnesotan Laura Caviani on Friday and New Yorker Roberta Piket on Saturday. And the many talented local players weren't taking the weekend off, either.
It was a good time for two critics to take a swing through the jazz scene. Lynn Darroch and I each hit Javon Jackson and Rashied Ali, but on different nights, then we went our separate ways, to catch as much as possible.
Keyed to the piano
The big names belonged to drummers. Though Jackson, a saxophonist, was the bandleader, the great draw to his gig was the rare treat of hearing Cobb, an exemplar of a classic style of hard-bop timekeeping. Ali, most famous for his role alongside John Coltrane on the avant-garde classic "Interstellar Space," brought some historical gravity of his own.
Yet, as things turned out, the pianists were really the key.
That might not have been the perception at the weekend's outset, with Caviani's performance early Friday evening. She played standard mainstream repertoire with a pleasingly nimble touch and well-shaped, melodically sure phrasing. But despite the very able support of Portlanders Gary Hobbs on drums (who added an earthy rhythmic push to Horace Silver's "Peace," hand-drumming on cojon, a resonant wooden box that doubled as his seat) and Scott Steed on bass, the music failed to convey much drive or personality.
Surely the LV's setting, its grayish light and dull decor suited more to sales-convention continental breakfasts than to a swinging night of music, didn't help.
The low-ceilinged basement of the Blue Monk isn't posh, either, but it's a more conducive container for musical adventure. At times in Friday's two sets, Ali's quintet pushed the envelope on consonance and structure, especially in a version of James "Blood" Ulmer's "M.O." that peaked with a furious yet trancelike solo from the drummer. But the music was most rewarding when most grounded, as in "Lorraine," a fine ballad by the group's 'Trane-besotted saxophonist, Lawrence Clark, and a spirited take on the classic "Cherokee."
In most cases, it was pianist Greg Murphy who made the difference, injecting light and linearity in what often was overly dense and abstract music.
After the underdone and overheated extremes that Caviani and Ali represented Friday, the following night's sets by Jackson and company were as tasty as Baby Bear's porridge, a superb balance between accessibility and expressive verve. The leader's tone was warm and inviting, Cobb's swinging time was imperturbable, and his solos delivered greater focus and dynamic sense than Ali's. But again, it was the pianist who shone brightest, in this case George Cables, a canny vet whose improvisations sparkled with rhythmic drive and a keen sense of harmony.
-- Marty Hughley Masters and commanders
Command. The ability to take control of unaligned forces and transform them into a brilliant pattern. That's what pianist George Cables and drummer Jimmy Cobb brought to the stage Friday night as part of Javon Jackson's quartet.
Their mastery showed most dramatically on the set's weakest tune, the 1970s soul ballad "Where Is the Love." When the tenor saxophonist played the melody straight, it appeared rather flat compared with previous material such as "Whisper Not." But once in the hands of Cables, Cobb and journeyman bassist Nat Reeves, the tune acquired buoyancy and swinging syncopation. Cables found the blues in the song and set them free, while Cobb transformed the beat into a bouncy stroll.
Keeping his hands low, doing nothing flashy, Cobb's perfect time centered every song. After all, this is the legend who helped shape modern jazz with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Wes Montgomery.
Cables, too, has been right-hand man for such stars as Art Pepper, Dexter Gordon and Joe Henderson. Now undergoing kidney dialysis three times a week, he nonetheless displayed great energy, piling up an ever-mounting string of notes toward the end of a verse until they seemed to topple forward into the next, leaving you still on your feet but exhilarated, as if you yourself had been tumbling.
At O'Connor's in Multnomah Village on Friday, the prolific bassist David Friesen and tenor saxophonist John Gross, took a risk. Exposed, without a chordal instrument to provide guide and cover, with just single notes and strings, they made challenging music sound full and satisfying. Heads of long gray hair bent seriously to the task, like watchmakers or weavers, Gross created an honest, human sound on tenor and Friesen contributed busy, full-bodied bass figures that made a spare, improvisational approach into something certain and compelling.
Saturday night at the University of Portland's Buckley Center Auditorium, the long-running series DePriest Family Jazz helped pass along the jazz tradition. In years past, Javon Jackson has been featured with drummer Akbar DePriest's band. This time the guest star was 29-year-old Portland trumpeter Farnell Newton, showing the torch has been passed successfully to another generation. Newton is a lyrical player in a classic jazz context, capable of matching the elegant musicianship displayed by bassist Ed Bennett and pianist Jof Lee.
The group closed with former Portland drummer Lawrence Williams' "Song to Lift the Human Spirit" -- a fitting choice, as DePriest is undergoing treatment for cancer, and the small audience came in part to honor the man who began his career on Central Avenue in Los Angeles when bebop giants roamed the street and gave the young drummer a chance to learn, as he's done for up-and-coming players ever since.
Playing Dionysus to Cobb's Apollo, drummer Rashied Ali's quintet was deep into late-period John Coltrane territory by the second number Saturday night at the Blue Monk. With the drummer's crisply articulated, decisive snare shots kicking the rhythm into shards, the young trumpet player squealing into the upper register and the tenor sax running up and down scales, the music's forward motion and high energy was irresistible to the packed house of whooping fans. Pounding a full drum kit -- overtones ringing from the tom-toms! -- Ali offered not the measured groove of mainstream jazz but a cathartic blast of controlled chaos.

- Lynn Darroch
©2006 The Oregonian

The New York Times January 6, 1988
Jazz: Rashied Ali Quartet
By JON PARELES

RASHIED ALI became John Coltrane's drummer in the late 1960's, when the saxophonist had broken into free jazz. But for its first set Monday at the Knitting Factory, Mr. Ali's quartet harked back to the late 1950's, when Coltrane was on the cusp of hard-bop and modal jazz. With Arthur Rhames on alto saxophone, Antoine Roney on tenor saxophone and Greg Murphy on a rather soupy-sounding electric piano, the quartet played a modal blues, a hard-bop tune and a breakneck version of ''Cherokee'' - staying, for the most part, within the boundaries of tonal harmony.
Yet the set wasn't exactly a throwback. While the framework was hard-bop, and Mr. Ali's drumming recalled Art Blakey's concise but unstoppable propulsion, the music was delivered with the fervor and expansiveness of the 1960's. Both saxophonists began long, blustering solos, streaking through arpeggios and bop figurations for chorus upon chorus; although they blended well for theme statements, each player also had an unconventional slant on intonation, evoking Arab and (like late Coltrane) Indian music.
At some points, Mr. Roney would dig into a nasal, odd-meter riff that recalled Moroccan joujouka music, a tradition that also fascinated Ornette Coleman, and his phrases sometimes wriggled away from the beat like those of Mr. Coleman. Mr. Rhames, who only played alto saxophone although he often performs on other instruments, poured out notes in an inexhaustible cascade, like a more cutting-toned Cannonball Adderly or Johnny Griffin.
The music revolved around stamina and muscle, and reached its high points in indefatigable duets for saxophone and drums. But in the course of a set, all the speedy virtuosity began to sound one-dimensional. The quartet seems capable of more. It will return to the Knitting Factory, 47 East Houston Street, on Mondays through January.

The New York Times June 29, 1994
JAZZ FESTIVAL REVIEW; Denizens of the Nightclubs Venture Into the Daylight
By JON PARELES

The first of the JVC Jazz Festival's free outdoor concerts brought five groups and five hours of music to Damrosch Park on Sunday afternoon. Most of the concert was like a sampler of average nights at mid-level jazz clubs, minus the cover and minimum.

There were quartets led by drummers (Roy Haynes and Rashied Ali), a guitarist (Russell Malone) and a tenor saxophonist (Steve Grossman), along with Larry Goldings's organ trio. Most of the concert was bread-and-butter jazz, competent but not revelatory, the sound of musicians settled into a style. At its best, the music wriggled free of expectations, breaking patterns; for the most part, it was technically adept and glib.

Four of the five groups played mainstream small-group jazz, jovial workouts on standards, blues and be-bop tunes. Mr. Haynes took the most aggressive approach, constantly stoking the music from the drums with snapping snare drums, thuds of bass drum and chattering cymbals. His quartet featured Donald Harrison on alto saxophone, who often evaded the beat to sail past it with smooth, crooned phrases; Dave Kikoski, on piano, used splashy Herbie Hancock chords and twinkling fast lines, although he relied too often on a limited number of strategies.

Russell Malone, a guitarist who has been heard widely with Harry Connick Jr., was best when his speedy fingers weren't running away with him. In most songs, he breezed through the harmonies on a jet stream of eighth notes, a coolly technical feat. But in a blues (with a cutting rock-guitar tone) and in a light but breakneck version of "It's All Right With Me," Mr. Malone was better than nimble. With odd melodic leaps, startling changes of harmony and playful stops and starts, he gave the tunes a new perspective.

Mr. Grossman's quartet was sparked by its pianist, Kenny Drew Jr., who dug into blues and gospel to put a down-home foundation under mainstream hard-bop tunes. The saxophonist split the set between Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane simulations, riding the music's momentum but not revealing much beyond facility.

Mr. Goldings's relaxed, by-the-book organ trio opened the concert. With Peter Bernstein on guitar and Alex Watson on drums, the trio cruised through standards and new compositions direct from the late 1950's and early 1960's. Amid the pithy organ solos and suave guitar replies, a swinging version of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" added a touch of turbulence, as if the band had suddenly become aware of the song's lyrics.

The odd group out was Rashied Ali's quartet, By Any Means, which shrieked and thundered and zoomed through free-jazz pieces. After hours of theme-solos-theme, the music at first seemed to sprawl out of control. Charles Gayle played tenor-saxophone shrieks, Greg Murphy added skittery piano lines and William Parker plucked hyperactive undercurrents on bass as Mr. Ali propelled the group in and out of steady, swinging time. Gradually, the quartet established its own context, and it became clear that the group was exploring musical and emotional byways -- noisy and hushed, enraged and eerie -- that the other groups left untouched.

No One in Particular

The Rashied Ali Quintet: Rashied Ali drums, Matt Garrison bass, Greg Murphy piano, Gene Shimosato guitar, Ravi Coltrane tenor and soprano saxophones

Reviewer: Glenn Astarita
Many of us might ordinarily surmise that a recording by famed modern jazz drummer Rashied Ali would reside within the free jazz spectrum of things. However, Ali and his quintet opts for the mainstream, post-Bop realm on this 2001 release, which presents the listener with a session recorded at a New York City studio in 1992. Interestingly enough, Ali utilizes the talents of saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, and a then young bassist Matthew Garrison, who has since enjoyed prominence performing with John McLaughlin and Herbie Hancock. The drummer is recognized for his work with John Coltrane’s free spirited excursions amid affiliations with Albert Ayler and Pharaoh Sanders. With this release Ali peppers and prods the soloists during their hip renditions of Jaco Pastorious’ lovely “Three Views of A Secret,” and Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt." This recording was co-produced by guitarist Gene Ess (formerly Gene Shimosato). In some respects, this outing could conceivably appear to be the guitarist’s solo album. As Ess’ effervescent and lyrically rich soloing endeavors provide the majority of the highlights. Regardless, this is a first-rate effort and well worth investigating! Recommended… ~ Glenn Astarita

Prima Materia Reviews

Reviews: Meditations

Prima Materia is a downtown New York City quintet centered around the free-time, free jazz brilliance of John Coltrane's last drummer, Rashied Ali. Ali plays with this band as he did with the master: powerfully, with a hyper-rhythmic drive matched by few contemporary percussionists. The band's front line consists of tenor saxophonist Louis Belogenis and altoist Allan Chase, a nicely complementary pair of improvisers. The band's original lineup featured two bassists, William Parker and Joe Gallant. Parker eventually left the group, to be replaced by pianist Greg Murphy, whose percussive agility raised the intensity still another notch. Originally formed to play Coltrane's later, most expressionistic compositions, the band has also gone on to interpret the works of Albert Ayler. ~ Chris Kelsey, All Music Guide

Prima Materia: Allan Chase (alto saxophone); Louie Belogenis (tenor saxophone); Greg Murphy (piano); Joe Gallant (bass); Rashied Ali (drums).

Recorded live at the Knitting Factory, New York, New York on June 23, 1995.

MEDITATIONS is Prima Materia's interpretation of John Coltrane's suite by the same name. The drummer for this performance, Rashied Ali, was Coltrane's last drummer.

JazzTimes (9/96, p.110) - "...a convincing version of that memorable work. This quintet maintains the spirit of the personal integrity and...[expands] the visionary language of the artifact..."

Option (7-8/96, p.158234) - "...a 40-minute fireworks display....a performance of enormous beauty and spiritual power true to Coltrane's spirit."

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
"Meditations" was the most successful recording that John Coltrane made with fellow tenor Pharoah Sanders. For the "remake" 30 years later, drummer Rashied Ali (who was on the original date along with Elvin Jones) meets up with tenor saxophonist Louis Belogenis, altoist Allan Chase, pianist Greg Murphy and bassist Joe Gallant. They revisit the lengthy and intense five-section suite, creating plenty of fireworks. Fortunately, Louis Belogenis and Allan Chase (although inspired by 'Trane's explorative approach) do not sound at all like John Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders, so this powerful version stands on its own.

Prima Materia "Meditations" (1995 Knitting Factory Works 180)

Rashied Ali drums, Joe Gallant bass, Louie Belogenis saxophone, Allan
Chase saxophone, Greg Murphy piano

1. The Father and Son and the Holy Ghost 2. Compassion 3. Love 4.
Consequences 5. Serenity

Meditations is one of Coltrane's greatest recordings. This release
tries to capture the feeling and message of that moment and is the first release featuring this composition since Coltrane's death.

Rashied Ali, was 'Trane's last drummer. You can hear him on the original "Meditations" along with Elvin Jones on drums, and on the extraordinary "Interstellar Space". In the so-called Jazz world where we hear standards like "Angel Eyes", "Time after Time" or any other corny piece of shit, this is a welcome change. I only wish that other artists had the nerve to present such material instead of taking the safe route.

Prima Materia: Joe Gallant is the leader of the big band Illuminati. Here's a guy known for his arrangements of the Grateful Dead's classic album "Blues for Allah". Allan Chase is the leader of Your Neighborhood Saxophone Quartet and a Sun Ra and John Coltrane scholar. Louie Belogenis is a former John Zorn alumni and co-leader of Prima Materia. He's played with William Hooker's ensemble for two years. Greg Murphy has played with Ali's quartet for years and leads his own group.

The music speaks for itself. Structured free improvisation and strong playing. No one can play with the intensity of 'Trane on the original but this CD is worth listening to and maybe it will prompt some new thoughts in composition and performance.

Cat 4/96

Meditations

Label: KnitWorks 180 Country: USA
Format: CD Category: AVAILABLE Price: $15.00
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Description:
This album features the first recording of this John Coltrane composition since his death in 1967. It was recorded live at the Knitting Factory during the 1995 What is Jazz? Festival. The Meditations "suite" is one of Coltrane's extended compositional masterpieces, but it has been overlooked since his death. Prima Materia does an extended version of Meditations that reveals it's depth with a reverence for the sprit of the piece not found in a normal "cover" band. The integrity and intensity of this band make this a truly special record.

Bells

CD Review from the April 1997 issue of JazzTimes

PRIMA MATERIA WITH RASHIED ALI
Bells (Knitting Factory)

Unquestionably one of the most vigorous litmus tests in the realm of free jazz, Albert Alyer's apocalyptic tour-de-force, Bells erupted with all the spiritual communal fury that marked much of the 60's New Thing scene but leveled itself strangely and completely with its whimsical yet infectious juxtapositions of calypso-laden marches and singsong folk melodies. Three decades and some odd years later after the New Thing, Prima Materia pays tribute and re-examines the fertile grounds of Alyer's monumental Bells with this live set recorded at the Knitting Factory.

Both tenor saxophonist Louie Belogenis and altoist Allan Chase exhibit remarkable strength and control in conjuring up the iconoclastic spirits of Alyer with their manipulating with multiphonics and cathartic outbursts, but its the burning rhythm section sparked by Rashied Ali that brightens this performance. The thick layers of harmonic bedding laid by bassist Joe Gallant and pianist Greg Murphy both softens the volcanic explorations of Belogenis and Chase and insulates the frenetic energy with beautiful textures. Veteran freedom fighter Ali pushes the ceremonies with swinging drive that's not commonly associated with him while also contributing additional color with him superb cymbal work.

While this live set doesn't contain the same urgency as the original, Prima Materia pays a spirited, convincing, and ultimately rewarding homage to otherworldly magic of Albert Alyer.
-John Murph

Down Beat (3/97, p.46) - 3 Stars - (out of 5) - "...the Prima Materia quintet now turns to the work of Albert Ayler with an expanded version of the saxophonist's 1965 classic `Bells.'....BELLS offers some remarkable playing..."

Scott Yanow, All Music Guide On May 1, 1965, at ~Town Hall, the innovative tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler performed his 21-minute original "Bells" with his quintet (trumpeter Donald Ayler, altoist Charles Tyler, bassist Lewis Worrell, and drummer Sonny Murray); the results were released at the time as a one-sided LP by @ESP. Prima Materia played a stretched-out rendition of "Bells" 31 years later; the adventurous quintet's version was three times longer than Ayler's original. The band (heard live at ~the Knitting Factory) retained all of the themes and, while not copying any of the original solos, brought back the spirit of the earlier recording. Comprised of drummer Rashied Ali (an important survivor from the 1960s fortunately still in prime form), a pair of fiery saxophonists (co-leaders Louie Belogenis on tenor and altoist Allan Chase), the percussive pianist Greg Murphy, and bassist Joe Gallant, Prima Materia both salutes the past and builds on the earlier innovations. An extended Belogenis-Ali duet and the rambunctious interpretations of Ayler's march-like themes are highlights of this spirited performance, which is easily recommended to adventurous listeners.

French articles / reviews...

Le batteur RASHIED ALI et son Quintet au Cheval Blanc
Par Jean Daniel BURKHARDT le mardi 4 novembre 2008, 12:10 - JAZZ - Lien permanent

Rashied Ali (Ali (né Robert Patterson en 1933 à Philadelphie) est surtout connu pour avoir été le dernier batteur de John Coltrane, remplaçant Elvin Jones tout d’abord en duo pour le disque « Interstellar Space » en 1967, pas toujours aussi zen et cool que l’annoncerait sa superbe pochette de soleil couchant, mais qui lui fit accèder à une autre dimension sur des titres aux noms de planètes. Il le suivit ensuite jusqu’à son dernier concert au Centre Africain d’Olatunji avec Alice Coltrane (piano), Jimmy Garrison (dernier survivant du quintette mythique, Pharoah Sanders au second saxophone (toujours ce défi lancé par Coltrane à lui-même et aux habitudes) et Jumma Santos aux percussions, dans son dernier « My Favourite Things ». Il a ensuite été des aventures du Free Jazz des années 70s à la tête de son propre label « Survival Records ».

Depuis, il s’est plutôt calmé, et son dernier « Rashied Ali Quintet » ressemble plus au mythique Quintet Hard-Bop de Max Roach avec Clifford Brown, avec une batterie coloriste et totale et des poussées vers le Free Jazz Coltranien. Lawrence Clark est au saxophone ténor, le benjamin Josh Evans à la trompette, Greg Murphy au piano et Joris Teepe à la contrebasse. Autant dire que Rashied Ali est le plus connu de l’orchestre.

Rashied Ali (en T-Shirt et vêtu de noir) et le saxophoniste ténor Lawrence Clark (chemise blanche et costume noir, il ressemble à Sonny Rollins jeune) portent des bonnets de Black Muslims sur leurs crânes rasés. Rashied Ali ressemble à Manu Di Bango, mais c’est peut-être son âge et ses lunettes noires. Le concert commence par « Stain Refrain », composé par le pianiste blanc Greg Murphy . Cela commence en Hard-Bop Funky à la Max Roach / Clifford Brown. Mais la batterie reste très Coltranienne, comme le piano dans la droite ligne de Mc Coy Tyner, lumineux à la « A Love Supreme » sur les bombes de Rashied Ali, ses cymbales frétillantes et ses caisses secoués de ses ras, les deux cymbales charley étant entrechoquées par la pédale sans discontinuer, comme en apesanteur. Les cuivres s’écartent pendant le solo de piano.

Le trompettiste Josh Evans est le plus jeune et le plus chevelu avec une coupe afro courte. En effet il a les fulgurances d’un Clifford Brown dans les arrêts, ce « big butter sound » que Clifford avait hérité du trompettiste Fats Navarro qu’il côtoya à ses débuts, et parfois des célérités de saxophones impensables sur une trompette avant le « Cherokee » de Clifford. Puis il se libère vers une trompette Coltranienne, si j’ose dire, à la Freddie Hubbard dans les aigues, aventureuse, avec une petite phrase rythmique riffée à la Miles rappelant son « Walkin’». Il semble parfois free mais la rythmique le retient, maîtrise les effets « growls », des couleurs et des styles très différents, avec des nuances, une qualité de son devenues rares de nos jours.

Arrive le saxophoniste ténor Lawrence Clark, qui débute au Hard-Bop Rollinsien, puis le pousse de plus en plus free Coltranien à la manière de celui-ci dans « Venus » sur « Interstellar Space », monte vers un but, une étoile, un idéal, vers le haut, par paliers, jusqu’au firmament, jusqu’à atteindre cet espace interstellaire de planètes inconnues. Le flot est ininterrompu, de clé en clé, de bas en haut, maintenant une puissance sonore soutenue sur les coups de boutoir d’Ali qui ne marque pas le rythme, rôle alloué à la contrebasse de Joris Teepe (blanc également). Seul avec le batteur comme Coltrane avant lui, Clark atteint cet espace interstellaire, ces planètes de l’inouï, sur cette batterie libre, coloriste prête à tout, jusqu’au solo de batterie d’Ali.

Ali laisse la batterie s’échapper jusqu’à redevenir tambour tellurique de l’Afrique, sonner chaque élément comme pour lui-même, tambourine comme au hasard de cymbales en charley, comme Coltrane avec ses cloches, avec des ralentis entrecoupés de charley. Ayant exploré les musiques du monde, il est autant percussionniste que batteur, pour rendre cette musique à l’Afrique, à l’Orient, aux Caraïbes, au monde. Les cuivres reviennent en un unisson joyeux avec le piano, des effets de trompette tremblés à plus mellow, en de longues phrases à la Clifford.

Le second titre, « Flight 643 », est inspiré par les voyages transatlantiques par avion des Jazzmen actuels, et introduit par la contrebasse de Joris Teepe avec un beau solo sublime un peu à l’indienne comme l’intro de Garrison au dernier « Favourite Things » de Trane à Olatunji, de grosses voix et d’autres plus ténues s’échappant en arpèges stoppés avec le pouce, de montées en descentes où la main semble une araignée sur une seule corde comme Garrison dans « A Love Supreme », avec des effets de lâché / rattrapé de justesse.

Reviennent le piano, puis Rashied Ali et les cuivres, et le thème commence vraiment. Trompette et saxophone semblent chacun jouer autre chose, se poursuivre pour mieux se fuir l’un l’autre, comme chez Ornette Coleman, se rejoignent en un unisson lent, puis prennent de courts solos, l’un brouillant celui de l’autre, se rejoignent encore dans un comique ambulatoire à la Mingus hérissé d’éclats en fin de phrases, d’arrêts de la batterie, de langueurs de cymbales, puis des phrases courtes, habitées par le piano.

Le solo de trompette rappelle en effet Don Cherry, complice habituel d’Ornette, dans son refus obstiné de laisser s’établir un semblant de thème, de s’enfermer dans l’ébauche d’une mélodie particulière. Cette habitude dans le Free Jazz vient du dégoût des standards, et de tout répertoire imposé par les blancs au début du Jazz (musique de danse, commerciale) à l’époque de la libération du Jazz. Le court solo de saxophone est rattrapé par la trompette dans un jeu harmonique du chat et de la souris où la trompette s’envole en free soutenue par les longues phrases ascendantes du saxo, puis se rejoignent sur le thème Mingusien. Le piano à son tour semble refuser la notion même de solo, mais reste le plus lumineux, le plus calme, tandis que la batterie intercale ses bombes, crie des ordres devant lui, aussi chef d’orchestre.

Suit un extrait de « Judgement Days », leur dernier disque, au titre très Coltranien: "Expectations" (attentes aussi sprituelles que politiques). C'est un thème rapide, plus Hard-Bop dans les ensembles de cuivres à la Rollins/Brown, puis arrêtés par la batterie sur le piano, et solo de trompette Cliffordien en diable, qui bifurque ensuite vers Booker Little qui succéda à Clifford Brown chez Max Roach mais mourut trop jeune, dans un certain maintien d’une forme sans mélodie apparente, puis repartant vers Don Cherry et Freddie Hubbard ; Ses mouvements sont arrêtés, orientés dans leurs bifurcations par la batterie d’Ali aux roulements Jazz sur les clusts violents du pioano.

Ce Josh Evans connaît son affaire, toute la tradition des trompettistes du Bop au Free, et n’a pas peur de mouiller sa chemise, peut-être arrivera-t-il dans l’avenir à nous offrir autre chose pour la trompette que le surplace réchauffé d’un Wynton Marsalis.

Le saxo prend son solo, ascendant par petites phrases de plus en plus longues et fortes, grognant puis remontant comme Coltrane sur « Countdown », premier envol de cette fusée trouvant la sérénité au bout de l’ascension vertigineuse, fait quelquefois quelques tours comme à vide pour atteindre ensuite un palier supérieur, s’envoler, planer sur sa lancée sur les roulements de turbine de la batterie à propulsion d’Ali, grattant parfois le fond de la cuve pour repartir encore plus haut.

Sur les coupes de la batterie et la basse rapide, le court solo de piano bondit d’une touche à l’autre à pas de géants ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KuR4yQWiRI&feature=related ) , d’un bout à l’autre du clavier avant le solo de batterie plus Jazz, mélodique sur la cymbale, entrecoupé de breaks de saxophone, puis de trompette ralentissant ses ras et tambourinements et le retour final au thème, qu’ils stoppent au milieu d’une phrase d’un coup sec.

Enfin un ballade romantique au tempo lent , ça nous reposera. Le thème rappelle la « Song For Chan » avec ce son de sprano presque vocal, plaintif, du saxophoniste Dexter Gordon jouant le rôle de pianiste Bop Bud Powell à Paris dans « Round Midnight » de Bertrand Tavernier. C’est là que trompette et saxophone se rejoignent dans des unissons sublimes, puis la trompette reprend trois notes et s’éclipse après elles, laissant à la basse le rôle du chanteur / soliste de cette mélodie aux aigus tremblotants, cherchant un peu plus bas, dans les hanches ornées de trous de l’instrument, les basses, dans un style mélodique et libre, à la Scott La Faro. La trompette revient, pour un sublime solo, avec une sonorité envoûtante à la Chet Baker, une chaleur, puis évoluant vers Clifford sans altérer l’innocence harmonique du thème, puis le tirant vers le Klezmer d’une courte cime, avant le départ ascensionnel vers sur une accélération du tempo, le dépassant par Don Cherry, puis revenant à la mélodie pour repartir de plus belle, avec toujours cette qualité de son , ces ralentissements en équilibre entre les ras dAli et les rebonds de la basse.

Le solo de saxophone, évidemment, fait plus penser au « Naïma », la plus belle ballade de Coltrane, dédiée à sa première femme qu’à Lester Young, puis monte en countdown vers les terres inconnues où seul Trane avec Ali accéda bien plus tard, sur un tempo à deux temps, dans les graves, atterrit sur la basse jusqu’au solo de piano à la Mc Coy Tyner.

Ils jouent ensuite une pièce de circonstance, « Tales Of Captain Black » du guitariste Free James Blood Ulmer dédié au « capitaine » Barack Obama à l’élection présidentielle Américaine.

Ô Capitaine, mon Capitaine, dirait Walt Whitman avant Le Cercle des Poètes Disparus, j’ai le mal de mer en cette mer agitée, cette tempête forte de révolte entre trompette et saxophone sans personne à la barre du navire ! On sent Coltrane dans les échanges entre trompette et saxophone, Ornette aussi. Ils soufflent certes à fond mais à vide, sans mélodie aucune qui nous accroche ou nous guide. Il y a, dans le free poussé à ce point, une forme de froideur qui tourne le dos à l’énergie dansante du Jazz, à ce qu’il de plus populaire, et le rend élitiste à la fin.

Dans le solo de saxophone, on retrouve le dernier Coltrane de « Jupiter » ou « Mars » sur « Interstellar Space », puis aussi son intérêt pour les instruments orientaux (flûtes) et son style oriental dans la terreur de son dernier « favourite Things », et cette quête effrénée, vers le haut, mystique, la seule direction qu’il connaisse, même face à la mort.

Le solo de trompette est plus mesuré, à la Dave Douglas dans « Masada » avec John Zorn, répond au piano par des moyens équivalents, puis part à son pour une course folle sur la seule batterie, soutenu seulement par ses éclairs, comme se complétant l’un l’autre dans une interaction totale. Puis il retrouve l’énergie des styles de fanfare originels, prolongés d’appels de loin en loin à la Miles dans « Bitches Brew ». Dans le solo de basse, Joris Teepe cite l’hymne national américain, espérant l’entendre demain sacrer la victoire de Barack Obama.

Ce concert était intéressant, quoique les solos allant toujours du Hard-Bop au Free-Jazz, et la répétition de compositions de ce fait un peu semblables pouvait lasser à la fin les moins habitués et même moi sur « Tales Of Captain Black ». Les solos de trompette étaient vraiment prometteurs, et je pense qu’il faudra vraiment compter avec Josh Evans quand il prendra son envol.
Jean Daniel BURKHARDT
http://jdb.blog.estjob.com/index.php/post/2008/11/04/Le-batteur-RASHIED-ALI-et-son-Quintet-au-Cheval-Blanc

http://www.schindelbeck.org/Rashied-Ali/

PRIMA MATERIA
BELLS
KNITTING FACTORY WORKS 190
Louie Belogenis (ts), Allan Chase (as), Greg Murphy (p), Joe Gallant (b), Rashied Ali (dm)

Nous y (re)voilà. L'intense activité volcanique que connurent les Etats-Unis au cours des années 60 est encore dans toutes les mémoires, particulièrement les éruptions du 1er mai 1965 à New York et du 28 juin de la même année dans le New Jersey. Aurait-il donc déplu à Albert Ayler, principal témoin de la première d'entre elles, que l'on reconstituât cet événement irrépressible et par suite réputé impraticable? Peut-être, si l'on considère que la compression des plaques "traditionnelles" et "modernes" qui avait rendu possible l'arc tectonique connu sous le nom de "Bells" ne doit plus rien aux aperçus et à l'énergie spirituelle d'un homme rassemblé à la musique dissemblable, mais à la poignée de fidèles qui n'a plus que cet homme et quelques autres en vue. Certainement pas quand on constate que Prima Materia ne s'y livre précisément que dans le but déclaré de rassembler les esprits. Réattaquer "Bells", est-ce propager encore ce qu' Ayler désignait lui-même comme des vibrations? Mais alors lesquelles? Louie Belogenis et Rashied Ali veulent-ils nous galvaniser d'entrée de jeu et de haut en se bravant si longuement? Le quintette en son entier (le piano de Greg Murphy se substituant parfois curieusement à la trompette de Don Ayler) est-il en mesure de conforter et réjouir quand, après six semaines de concerts, il en est venu à reconnaître une heure de chemins dans une oeuvre qui ne dépassait pas la vingtaine de minutes? Aurais-je tendance à répondre par l'affirmative?...

This is a review of The Rashied Ali Quintet performance at the Antibes Jazz Festival in Juan-Les-Pins France July 1993.

Rashied Ali drums, Lonnie Plaxico bass, Greg Murphy piano, Ravi Coltrane tenor and soprano saxophones, Gene Shimosato guitar, with special guests Carlos Santana guitar and Archie Shepp tenor saxophone and vocals

DrÙles de paroissiens pour culte ´ColtranienªUn Jazz ´ en vrac ª a littÈralement sÈduit les amateurs de fushion musicale jusquíý la dimension spirituelle. Ce soir : Petrucciani en solo.Chaude la pinËde pour la soirÈe-culte, en líhonneur du trËs charismatique et mystique John Coltrane, disparu voilý plus díun quart de siËcle. Comme nous líavions prÈdit, cíest une messe jazz cÈlÈbrÈe par les membres de líÈglise orthodoxe africaine Saint-John (Coltrane) de San Francisco qui dÈchaÓna les milliers de spectateurs-fidËles.Cette Ètonnante Èquipe religieuse pour qui la musique est une liturgie, et dans laquelle les instruments et les chants ont une large place, sembla convenir aux trËs jeunes qui adoptËrent rapidement le rythme des sceurs, des prÍtres et du Bishop King qui níhÈsita pas ý síemparer du saxo pour accomplir de saintes dysharmonies.Peu acadÈmique certes et gr?ce au talent des cÈlÈbrants, líoffice parvint cependant ý faire descendre líesprit du grand John dans la pinËde.Le ton de la soirÈe Ètait donnÈ. Dans le public, rares Ètaient ceux ñ hormis les historiens ñ qui se trouvaient dans la pinËde Gould, le fameux soir du 27 juillet 1965 ñ cíest aujourdíhui - pour le concert de Coltrane que demeure Iíun des ÈlÈments majeurs de Iíhistoire du festival, gr?ce ý la splendide version de ´ Love Supreme ª, ultime message du grand musicien.Une QuÍte... spirituelleII y eut ñ bien entendu ñ quelques dÈceptions parmi ceux qui Ètaient venus entendre des ´ Gospels ª, comme ý líÈglise Baptiste car le ´ Free jazz ª dispensÈ toute la soirÈe níavait ñ il faut le dire ñ quíun trËs lointain rapport avec les harmonies vocales des offices dominicaux de líAmÈrique profonde...On líaura compris, cíest un langage contemporain qui servit de vÈhicule de communication et les excellents solistes ñ autres sacrÈes vedettes de la soirÈe ñ ne se firent pas prier pour jouer : Ci-dessus : cÈlÈbration du culte par le Bishop King.A gauche : Archie Shepp, la mÈmoire brute et rugueuse du peuple noir.Adroite : ý líÈglise Saint-John, la musique tient lieu de liturgie.il y avait lý Rahied Ali, le dernier batteur de Coltrane; Ravi, Iíun des deux fils du saxophoniste; Matthew Garrison dont le pËre fut le fidËle bassiste de John; Archie Shepp, compagnon assidu des derniËres annÈes et chef de file díune avant-garde jamais dÈpassÈe; Greg Murphy au piano et surtout Gene Shimosato qui fit des prodiges avec sa guitare; Carlos Santana enfin et sa guitare magique dont Iíapparition fut tout particuliËrement acclamÈe.Et Iíhommage ý Coltrane se prolongea jusque tard dans la nuit de Juan, sous les Ètoiles, avec des titres qui exprimaient clairement IíidÈal de toute sa vie pour aboutir ý ce ´ Love supreme ª entonnÈ par ceux qui níy croyaient pas... Antibes-Juan-Les-PinsCarlos Santana :le Gourou a toujours 20 ans... et ses fans oublient leur ?geCoups de blues et nostalgie.Avec son bandeau, ses cheveux noirs en oreillette, son bermuda et son visage marquÈ par la passion que barre une moustache, Carlos Santana a fait un retour gagnant dans la pinede : avec les ´ anciens ª, ses fans des annÈes 70 qui líont retrouvÈ tel quíil líavait quittÈ sur le campus; avec les petits nouveaux, ceux qui le dÈcourent et líont adoptÈ.Cíest un culte ñ comme ses airs qui balancent ñ et les cultes níont pas dí?ge. Et Santana ne trahit pas ses admirateurs : avec une guitere, entourÈ de musiciens hors pairs, il en donne et en redonne avant que líon en redemande. II devance les rappels, bondissant, entraÓnant... Et quand le public debout, swinguant dans les travÈes, líovationne, il níest jamais aussi bon.´ Jíaime mon public ª dit-il, au lendemain de sa nuit juanaise, en avalant une salade ý la plage des Pirates, riant aux Èclats, avec ses amis de Saint Johnís African Orthodox Church of San Francisco, avec lesquels il rendra hommage ce soir ý Coltrane.A líunisson, le saxo, le piano, la guitare et les voix rendront une nouvelle fois magique la nuit de la pinËde.Ce soir encoreAprËs Michel Jonasz hier, le festival de jazz rendra ce soir un hommage ý John Coltrane, avec le retour dans la pinËde de Carlos Santana. Une seconde chance pour ceux qui auraient loupÈ ce monument, vendredi.Plus díun quart de siËcle aprËs sa mort, Coltrane reste une figure charismatique, non seulement du jazz, mais díune philosophie musicale et existentielle ý part entiËre.Le concert de ce soir ressemble ý une rÈunion de famille avec la participation des fidËles.une messe ´ free gospel ª par les membres de líÈglise Saint Johnís de San Francisco, Rashied Ali, qui fut le dernier batteur de Coltrane líun de ses deux fils et Matthew Garrison dont le pËre fut le fidËle bassiste de John.Archie Shepp viendra se joindre ý ce quintette et avec lui la guitare de Carlos Santana. Encore une belle soirÈe en pesrpective. Mieux, une soirÈe magique... Juan-les-pinsSantana : accords díun autre mondeCíest un grand souffle de rÈtro ñ que les moins de 20 ans ont appris ý connaÓtre ñ qui a balayÈ, puissant, la pinËde Gould, arrachant les milliers de fans de leur siËge, soulevant les enthousiasmes et les coeurs, entremÍlant les voix et les sons : avec Santana, plus Carlos que jamais avec son bandeau orange et sa chemise ý fleurs, cíest tout un monde ý part qui a vÈcu ý nouveau.Les accords ont ÈvoluÈ ñ un zeste de salsa, une pincÈe de funk ñ mais la patte Santana est restÈe : dans le discours ñ ce monde meilleur sans drapeau et sans frontiËres, quíil appelle de sa voix de basse ñ et dans le rythme.Rythmes latino-amÈricains, rythmes reggae... rythmes Santana, nÈs par hasard au dÈtour díun boeuf dans un restaurant... o? il fait la plonge. Nous sommes, ý San Francisco, en 67 et Santana, líÈmigrÈ mexicain, a vingt ans. Un mois plus tard, ý la tÍte du Santana Blues Band, il sËme des fans ý toud les coins du monde.Ses fans Èttaient lý ñ nÈgligeant díÈcouter en premiËre partie líexcellent Eddy Louiss au jazz frais et colorÈ ñ rÈpondant dans un mÍme Èlan aux appels de notes cultes, quíelles soient hommage ý Miles Davis ou ý John Coltrane avec un ´ A love supreme ª qui nía pas perdu un grain de sa ferveur communicative.Et au delý des mots et des messages, reste líextraordinaire prestation des musiciens du Blues Band, avec un percutionniste et deux batteurs qui síaccordent sur des rythmes torrides.Les ´ anciens ª Ètaient lý. Les jeunes aussi. On craignait les dÈbordements. Líambiance resta ´ baba-cool ª. Le concert du Gourou, avait aussi des allures de pÈlerinage.Ce soir, dans la pinËde, on retrouvera Carlos Santana pour un hommage ý John Coltrane avec les choeurs de Saint-Johnís African Orthodox Church, emmenÈs par Bishop King, et avec les ´ Voices of compassion ª.Sur la scËne, se retrouveront Ègalemet le quintet de Rahied Ali, avec le fils de John, Ravi Coltrane, et Archie Shepp. Un concert culte. Et assurÈment un ÈvÈnement dans la pinËde.F.R.

Rashied Ali, Sam RiversMars 97 N°14

Il n'y a pas si longtemps, les mois se suivaient : "Alors, Flagada Stompers du Hot Club ou René Lacaille à Tassin la Demi-Lune ? Je me tâte... " Par bonheur, des lieux de découvertes se sont créés et tiennent la corde, contre vents et marées. Hasard des programmations, les deux lieux les plus exemplaires recevront ce mois-ci deux anciens leaders de la scène Loft, qui ne joueront donc pas dans leur grenier, mais au Pez ner pour Rashied Ali le 28 et à la Tour Rose pour Sam Rivers le 28 (drame !) et le 29 (ouf). Le premier fut le dernier batteur de Coltrane, deux années pour graver quelques merveilles parmis les plus extrêmes du saxophoniste. "Interstellar Space" en duo, c'était en 67, année de la mort de Coltrane, 24 ans plus tard, Charles Gayle enregistre "Touchin'on Trane" avec William Parker et ce même Ali. Deux disques splendides, d'un esprit proche, et une constatation : difficile d'aller plus loin que "Trane". Le jeu de Rashied Ali est resté d'actualité, un énorme volume, matière en fusion d'où émerge quelques irruptions (roulements). L'enfer des métronomes : des rythmes multi-directionnels qui laissent toute liberté au soliste. Marqué par la révolution Free (il a croisé Don Cherry, Sun Ra) mais aussi passé par le rock, le funk, Rashied Ali depuis trois ans, se consacre aux œuvres des Coltrane, Dolphy, Ayler, avec son groupe Prima Materia qui réunira Joe Gallant à la basse, Greg Murphy au piano et Louie Belogenis au ténor (qui a aussi joué avec God Is My Co-Pilot). Hommage donc, mais pas revival, avec le dernier disque "Méditation" par exemple, l'idée est de partir du point où Coltrane était arrivé. Le résultat est très dense, fort, un mélange de cris, de psalmodies où l'on distingue une mélodie, presque un Spiritual. Il est conseillé d'attacher sa ceinture et de bien s'accrocher à son siège (non ce n'est pas un rêve, des chaises sont annoncées au Pez ner le 28 !).Tout le confort de la Tour Rose en revanche pour accueillir Sam Rivers deux soirs. Je ne sais pas si beaucoup de musiciens peuvent se vanter d'avoir travaillé comme lui, avec Billie Holliday, Miles Davis et Cecil Taylor, trois noms qui racontent presque toute l'histoire de cette musique. Or Sam Rivers est un passeur, poly instrumentiste rompu à l'improvisation même la plus libre, mais aussi compositeur subtil et savant. S'il participe d'une histoire du Jazz américain, ses partenaires actuels, deux français et deux anglais de générations diverses sont liés par une certaine idée du Jazz en Europe : Jacques Thollot à la batterie, Tony Hymas au piano, Noël Akchoté à la guitare et Paul Rogers à la basse. Quelques égarés qui trainaient au Pez ner le 17 janvier ont peut-être frémi en lisant les deux derniers noms, auteurs d'un concert terrible, âpre (grand souvenir). Ils seraient sans doutes surpris par le disque du groupe : "Configuration". Quelques instants free, oui, mais surtout des compositions colorées, sensuelles, où la forme varie du solo au quintet, avec ce son si particulier de Sam Rivers au ténor, teinté de nostalgie (à noter un son étonnant, épais à la flûte qui m'a réconcillié avec l'instrument). Ce groupe a peut-être trouvé l'une des meilleures manières d'appréhender le Jazz dans sa continuité, sans posture marquée vers le passé, mais pas sans mémoire.Il reste à ajouter deux concerts (qui auraient mérité plus de place) : Lol Coxhill les 8 et 9 à la Tour Rose et Babkas le 16 au Pez ner. Lol Coxhill c'est un saxophoniste et chanteur britannique, l'inévitable bande des Derek Bailey, Evan Parker... improvisation encore, mais aussi chansons délirantes sur le mode burlesque avec les Melody Four dont le répertoire va des génériques TV aux Marx Brothers. Son association avec Noël Akchoté et Mark Sanders à la batterie (encore un anglais, ils sont incontournables) s'annonce imprévisible et déchainée, âmes sensibles s'abstenir. Babkas est un trio de Seattle qui réunit Briggan Krauss à l'alto, Aaron Alexander à la batterie et Brad Schoeppach le guitariste du Tiny Bell de Dave Douglas. Groupe où chacun est libre, pas d'accompagnement traditionnel, tout peut arriver... avec quelques bribes de musiques d'Europe orientale.Voilà de quoi se décrasser les oreilles.

German articles / reviews...

PRIMA MATERIA with RASHIED ALI
Bells

Knitting Factory Works 190 / Amigo. 65:15. RA (dm), Louie Belogenis (ts), Allan Chase (as), Joe Gallent (b), Greg Murphy (p). NYC 1996.
Mærker jeg lidt ærefrygt over for den gamle mester som døde så ung? Den gamle mester er Albert Ayler. Den unge (hvide) gruppe Prima Materia har allieret sig med en veteran fra dengang jazzen søgte nye græsgange, Rashied Ali og bogstaveligt dyrket en af Aylers spirituelle kompositioner, Bells,i et timelangt forløb. Det bliver til en intens og medrivende hyldest med saftigt saxspil og rullende, evigt kommenterende trommespil. Der bliver citeret og komponeret med i denne suite, der nogle steder når en slags mantra-ligende tilstand. Jeg savner lidt mere vildskab på denne plade med Ayler-musik, det ville have været helt i hans ånd.
Prima Materia er et projekt der hylder de gamle mestre og forud er gået to udsendte album til John Coltranes ære. Forude venter vistnok musik af Eric Dolphy.

- By Allan Sommer

Leidenschaftliche Herzschläge eines Überlebenden

Enjoy Jazz: Im Karlstorbahnhof Heidelberg überzeugte das Quintett des Schlagzeugers Rashied Ali

Zum Auftakt der zweiten Konzerthälfte kündigt Rashied Ali eine "Shownummer" an, mit dem Titel "If I Only Had a Gig" - "Wenn ich doch nur einen Auftritt hätte". Dazu passt der Name des Plattenlabels, das sich der Schlagzeuger aus den USA vor Jahrzehnten schon zugelegt hat; notgedrungen, weil keine der marktmächtigen Plattenfirmen seine Musik veröffentlichen wollte: "Survival Records" nannte er sein privates Kleinunternehmen, mit dem bitteren Humor des verkannten Künstlers, der ums Überleben kämpft.
Warum das so ist, lässt sich am Spielkonzept seines heutigen Quintetts studieren. Gewiss gibt es da eingängige Melodien, wie in der "Shownummer", deren Thema an John Coltranes berühmtes "Giant Steps" erinnert. Oder im Eröffnungsstück des Abends, komponiert in bester, effektvoller Hard-Bop-Manier. Ständiger Wechsel von rhythmischer Statik, über der sich Spannung aufstaut, und munter drauflos marschierenden Passagen, in denen sich diese Spannung wieder lösen kann: Das liefert eine äußerst anregende Grundlage für aufregende Soloimprovisationen.

Trompeter Josh Evans wird dabei den Vorgaben bravourös gerecht, manövriert sein strahlend schmetterndes Horn mit der Geschmeidigkeit von Clifford Brown durch die harmonischen Slalomstangen. Kollege Lawrence Clark am Tenorsaxofon aber geht einen entscheidenden Schritt weiter. Ausgestattet mit dem heiligen Furor und auch dem langen Atem eines neu geborenen John Coltrane, drängt er hinaus über den abgesteckten Kurs. Bricht Schneisen hinein in freies Terrain, dass Pianist Greg Murphy und Bassist Joris Teepe ihre liebe Mühe haben, die ganze auf Abenteuerfahrt geratene Formation bei der Stange zu halten.
Darauf hat ihr Bandchef am Schlagzeug freilich nur gewartet. Wild entschlossen sprengt er die Fesseln des vorgegebenen Beats, löst ihn auf zu rhythmischem Pulsieren, das keine feste Zählzeit mehr aufweist, sondern unregelmäßig und zumeist sehr schnell klopft wie der Herzschlag des Menschen in Momenten der Erregung.

Das ist die Spezialität von Rashied Ali. Mit derart freien Rhythmen hat er einst John Coltrane selbst begleitet, als letzter Schlagzeuger des 1967 Verstorbenen. So einflussreich der bis heute im Jazz geblieben ist, so wenig gewürdigt wird immer noch, weil vielen zu frei, Coltranes Spätwerk. Sich dieser Spielweise nach wie vor verpflichtet zu führen, hat Rashied Ali in die Isolation geführt - völlig unverdient, wie sein Heidelberger Auftritt jetzt eindrucksvoll bewiesen hat.

- swm

Hungarian articles / reviews...

Rashied Ali Quintet 2008.09.25. Fidelio

MOL Jazz Fesztivál, Szeptember 20.

Az utóbbi néhány évben megtanulhattuk, hogy társadalmunk jelenlegi állapotai között sokkal nagyobb lakossági érdeklodés tapasztalható egy melegdemonstráció szétverésében való aktív részvétel iránt, mint bármilyen jazzkoncert meglátogatására, különösen akkor, ha azt a koncertet egy Duna-parti sátorban adják 10 fokos, novemberi hidegben.

Nem is csodálkoztam, hogy a jegypénztáros sátorban a halálos kihulés veszélyével küzdo, termoszból teázó lányokat leszámítva teljesen néptelen volt a Buddha Beach szeptember 20-án, amikor a MOL Jazzfesztivál Közraktár Sátorbeli koncertjére tartottam. Ehhez képest teljes megdöbbenéssel ért, amikor a sátorba lépve masszív teltház látványa fogadott. Az ilyen meglepetésekre korlátlan mennyiségben vevo vagyok, kár hogy nem sok jut belolük mostanában.
Az est fo attrakciója a Magyarországon eloször játszó dobos-zenekarvezeto Rashied Ali, az avantgárd jazz egyik nagy öregje, aki saját magánál több generációval fiatalabb zenésztársakkal érkezett hozzánk. A koncert elso darabját a gitáros James Blood Ulmer írta, aki ugyan nem tagja a Rashied Ali Quintetnek, így nem szerepelt a koncerten, de Alival más felállásban már legalább húsz éve játszik. Ezek a percek számomra elég nehezen teltek, mindig bajban voltam azzal, ha egy darabnak a végéig nem derül ki sem a tempója, sem a hangneme, nevezzék azt avantgárd-, free- vagy akármilyen jazznek. A harminc-negyven évvel ezelott még úttöronek számító irányról azóta bebizonyosodott, hogy nem ez vált a zene evolúcióját meghatározó fo irányzattá, amit személy szerint nem nagyon bánok. Különösen azért, mert az olyan zenei közeg, ahol egyáltalán nem, vagy csak nagyon nehezen értelmezhetok az olyan fogalmak, mint például ”melléütni”, ”hibázni” és hasonlók, valósággal vonzzák a hangszeres tudás hiányát e mufaj segítségével palástoló állítólagos zseniket. Itt persze nem Rashied Alira vagy mondjuk egykori zenekarvezetojére, a legendás John Coltrane-ra kell gondolni, hiszen meroben másképp szól, ha valaki azért játszik free-jazzt, mert azt akar játszani, mint ha azért, mert amúgy nem tudna egy egyenes hangot kicsalni a hangszerébol.

De térjünk vissza a koncertre, hiszen a második számától kezdve amúgy is sokkal könnyebben értelmezheto anyag következett. Ezekben a számokban derült ki igazán, hogy a zenekart valójában milyen fölényes tudású, nagyszeru zenészek alkotják. Ezen az estén a zongorista Greg Murphy és a trombitás Josh Evans mutatták a legtöbbet, de a bogos Joris Teepe és a tenorszaxofonos Lawrence Clark is megkérdojelezhetetlen szakmai biztonsággal tették a dolgukat. A másodikként játszott, Almost Lucky címu Teepe számban Murphy és Evans szólói a nyilvánvalóan elso osztályú technikai tudás megcsillantásán kívül nagyon színesek és eredetiek voltak, talán éppen csak ezekhez képest tunhetett fel, hogy Clark szólóiban kevesebb dinamikai árnyalat volt megfigyelheto.

Ha jól számoltam, az egy óránál alig valamivel hosszabb musor mindössze három számból állt, a gyors záró darabot az elsohöz hasonlóan a Rashied Ali felkonferálása szerint ”nagyon tehetséges” James Blood Ulmer írta, de szerencsére ennek már felismerheto tempója és hangneme is volt. Az ezt megelozo, nagyon szép lassú szám után az up-tempo swing egy másfajta közeget adott a magas színvonalú szólókra és együttjátékra, amit a zenekar tagjai remekül ki is használtak.
Valószínuleg nem én leszek az egyetlen, akiben a rövid koncert nem hagyott különösebben mély nyomokat, amire a közönség kissé udvariasan tartózkodó reakciói engednek következtetni. Ennek ellenére azonban panaszra sem lehet okunk, az akusztikus avantgárd jazz egyik nagy egyéniségét láthattuk éloben, egy remek zenészek társaságában adott, tisztességesen lejátszott koncerten.

http://www.fidelio.hu/visszhang.asp?id=14370

Polish articles / reviews...

Diezelfde Rashied Ali (****) was er maandag bij met zijn kwintet Company Of Heaven. Een tamelijk rondkende naam voor een fijn gezelschap van muzikanten in de jazz midlife: Greg Murphy (piano), Joris Teepe (bas), Josh Evans (trompet) en Lawrence Clark (tenorsax). Geen van hen is een topnaam in de jazz, maar ze speelden met flair en overgave in een door Ali heel strak gehouden raamwerk. Dat had zo zijn voordelen: met deze groep jaag je de visite niet buiten, zelfs al liet vooral saxofonist Clark al eens horen dat hij bloed van Coltrane gedronken heeft. Maar vooral het sobere en bijzonder trefzekere spel van de drummer was prachtig. Dan besef je: efficiëntie kan soms een cruciale eigenschap van goede kunst zijn.

GRZEGORZ TUSIEWICZ: Caly ten jazz
W duchu Mistrza
Rzadko w Krakowie mozemy posluchac jazzmanow z pierwszej linii. Totez czwartkowy koncert na dziedzincu Radia Krakow byl okazja nieslychana.

Witold Wnuk w ramach 12. Letniego Festiwalu Jazzowego zaprosil Rashieda Ali, perkusiste chyba najwazniejszego saksofonisty jazzu nowoczesnego - Johna Coltrane'a, z drugiego bardziej uduchowionego okresu jego tworczosci, bedacego odpowiedzia Coltrane'a na rozpychajacy sie free jazz oraz jazz elektryczny spod znaku Milesa Davisa. Fakt, iz Ali zastapil w zespole Coltrane'a Elvina Jonesa zrodzil w srodowisku milosnikow jazzu spor; oto bowiem stary kwartet przestal istniec, a pojawila sie w otoczeniu Coltrane'a Alice McLeod (zostanie pania Coltrane) i wlasnie Ali.
Z wielka ciekawoscia oczekiwalem koncertu kwintetu Rashieda Ali z mlodymi, mogacymi byc jego wnukami muzykami.
Przed koncertem czlonkowie zespolu udzielili Antoniemu Krupie z Radia Krakow obszernego wywiadu. Na pytanie, kiedy ostatnio sluchal plyt Coltrane'a Ali odpowiedzial krotko "Dzisiaj rano" (rozmowa pojawi sie w piatkowych audycjach Krupy "Radiowy Jazzklub Helikon"). I tez od pierwszych dxwiekow stalo sie jasne, ze muzyka Coltrane'a i jego sposob myslenia o niej jest podstawa ideowa tego zespolu. Wszystkie utwory byly zharmonizowane i zaaranzowane w duchu Mistrza, chociaz w repertuarze znalazl sie tylko jeden jego utwor - "Liberia".
W pierwszej linii staneli trebacz Josh Evans, grajacy na trabce (acz raczej pianistycznie, cokolwiek mialoby to oznaczac) i dobra, wspolczesna kopia Mistrza - saksofonista tenorowy Lawrence A. Clarke. Nazwiska te trzeba koniecznie zapamietac. W sekcji rytmicznej zagrali kontrabasista Joris Teepe, o prawdziwie garrisonowskim walkingu oraz pianista prawie perfekcyjny Greg Murphy. A Rashied Ali? Dlugo by mozna pisac o jego technicznej sprawnosci, mimo wieku, o intuicyjnej muzykalnosci, o napedowej roli w zespole, o wielkiej roli mistrzow typu Armstrong, Ellington, Davis czy Coltrane w rozwoju jazzu, ale i o Beli Barto-ku, ktorego muzyka byla przedmiotem studiow Coltrane'a.
Milo tez, ze pelna widownia wysluchala jednego z wazniejszych koncertow, jaki w ostatnich latach odbyl sie w Krakowie.
Rashied Ali Quintet - Tribute to John Coltrane
Rzadko w Krakowie mozemy obejrzec i posluchac jazzmanów z pierwszej linii. Warszawa dysponujac wiekszymi pieniedzmi anektuje ich bezdyskusyjnie. Totez czwartkowy koncert na dziedzincu Radia Kraków byl okazja nieslychana.
Prof. Witold Wnuk w ramach 12. Letniego Festiwalu Jazzowego zaprosil Rashieda Aliego, perkusiste chyba najwazniejszego saksofonisty jazzu nowoczesnego - Johna Coltrane'a z drugiego bardziej uduchowionego okresu jego twórczosci. W momencie w którym Ali zastapil w zespole Coltrane'a Elvina Jonesa srodowisko milosników jazzu calego swiata zaczelo spierac sie co do celowosci tego kroku. Stary kwartet przestal istniec, a pojawila sie w otoczeniu giganta Alice McLeod (pozniej Coltrane) i wlasnie Ali. Ten okres twórczosci byl odpowiedzia Coltrane'a na rozpychajacy sie free jazz oraz jazz elektryczny spod znaku Milesa Davisa.

Dlatego z wielka ciekawoscia oczekiwalem koncertu kwintetu Rashieda Aliego z mlodymi, mogacymi byc jego wnukami muzykami. Przed koncertem czlonkowie zespolu udzielili red. Antoniemu Krupie obszernego wywiadu. Na jedno z pytan o plytach Coltrane'a red. Krupa zapytal Aliego kiedy ich ostatnio sluchal. Odpowiedz byla krótka "Dzisiaj rano". Calosc wywiadu bedzie zaprezentowana w audycji Krupy - "Radiowy Jazzklub Helikon".

Od pierwszych dzwieków stalo sie jasne, ze muzyka Cotrane'a i jego sposób myslenia o niej jest podstawa ideowa tego zespolu. Wszystkie utwory byly zharmonizowane i zaaranzowane w duchu Mistrza, chociaz w repertuarze znalazl sie tylko jeden oryginalny utwór - "Liberia".

W pierwszej linii staneli dwaj 20-kilkulatkowie: trebacz Josh Evans, grajacy na trabce nie trabkowo, raczej pianistycznie, cokolwiek mialoby to oznaczac, i dobra, wspólczesna kopia Mistrza - saksofonista tenorowy Lawrence A. Clarke. Te nazwiska trzeba koniecznie zapamietac. W sekcji rytmicznej zagrali kontrabasista Joris Teepe, o prawdziwie garrisonowskim walkingu oraz Greg Murphy, pianista prawie perfekcyjny.

O Rashiedzie Alim mozna dlugo, i tak tez rozmawialismy w gronie przyjaciól, o jego technicznej sprawnosci, mimo wieku, o intuicyjnej muzykalnosci, o napedowej roli w zespole, o wielkiej roli mistrzów typu Armstrong, Ellington, Davis czy Coltrane w rozwoju jazzu, o Beli Bartoku. Muzyka tego ostatniego byla przedmiotem studiów Coltrane'a. Rashied Ali wystapil w podkoszulce z napisem "Saint John Coltrane - African Orthodox Church" (swiety John Coltrane - Afrykanski Kosciól Ortodoksyjny).

Przy pelnej widowni wysluchalismy jednego z wazniejszych koncertów jaki odbyl sie w Krakowie.

"Tribute to John Coltrane" - Rashied Ali Quintet (Rashied Ali - drums, Lawrence Clarke - tenor saxophone, Josh Evans - trumpet, Greg Murphy - piano, Joris Teepe - double bass)
Grzegorz Tusiewicz (Dziennik Polski)

Dutch articles / reviews...

JazzPodium
Rashied Ali Quintet
Jumaane Smith – trompet
Lawrence Clark – tenorsax
Greg Murphy – piano
Joris Teepe – bas
Rashied Ali – drums

Ook op festival aanwezig was Rashied Ali, de opvolger van Elvin Jones in het John Coltrane Quartet. Rashied Ali staat vooral bekend als een freejazz drummer en zijn werk bij Coltrane bestond uit het suggereren van een beat en vooral veel geritsel. De man heeft toch wel een bepaalde naam en faam, en kan je eigenlijk als drummer niet om een bezoek aan zijn concert heen. Het werd het hoogtepunt van het festival. Het Rashied Ali Quintet speelde met een power, inzet, overtuiging en diepgang dat het bijna eng werd. In een dergelijke context wordt luisteren een beleving en onderga je de muziek. Hier ook weer dat oergevoel en de noodzaak van muziek maken. Het quintet speelde een mengeling van hardbop en vrije stijlen. Dit alles met een ongelofelijke drive die meer voel dan hoorbaar was.

RASHIED ALI QUINTET
Judgement Day vol 1 & 2

Het overweldigende concert van het Rashied Ali Quintet op het eerste Pure Jazz Fest deed mij mijn mening over deze drummer herzien.

Tot nu vond ik Ali één van die vrije vogels die weliswaar mooie dingen speelde met John Coltrane zoals op Interstellar Space maar eigenlijk teveel van de traditie afweek. Rashied Ali is volgens eigen zeggen de duet drummer en heeft dan ook vele duetten met vogels van verschillende pluimage opgenomen. Ook speelde hij met zijn band Prima Materia het latere werk van Coltrane en Albert Ayler. Dat hij ook nog “ouderwets” in vieren kan spelen bleek dus op Pure Jazz waar Rashied Ali een kwintet aanvoerde in de traditie van Art Blakey met een mix van veteranen en nieuwkomers.
De band bestaat uit de trompettist Jumaane Smith, tenorsaxofonist Lawrence Clark, pianist Greg Murphy, de Nederlandse New Yorker Joris Teepe op bas en natuurlijk Rashied Ali op drums. Een kwintet in de beste hardbop traditie.

Met deze bezetting heeft Ali tweede cd’s volgespeeld. Judgement Day Volume 1 & Volume 2, beide opgenomen op 17 & 18 februari 2005.. Ali’s credo “If they can play Beethoven, why not Coltrane?” wordt gestalte gegeven middels het spelen van een aantal composities van jazzgrootheden van toen en nu. Opvallend genoeg zit daar geen één Coltrane compositie bij. Maar de “playlist” is interessant genoeg. Stukken van Frank Lowe, James “Blood” Ulmer, Jaco Pastorius en Don Cherry kom je niet al te vaak tegen op cd’s van anderen. Voeg daarbij nog composities van Monk, Wayne Shorter, Billy Strayhorn en werk van de bandleden zelf toe en je kunt spreken van een mooi repertoire.

Volume 1 begint met Sidewalks in Motion van Frank Lowe. De kenmerken die het bovengenoemde concert zo bijzonder maakte zijn hier meteen te herkennen. Het kwintet speelt met een enorme intentietijd en drive. Al doet men het er wat rustiger aan toe dan tijdens een live situatie. Het gaat hier tenslotte om studio opnamen waarbij ook nog eens de lengte van de stukken in de gaten gehouden moet worden. In het tweede stuk, Dania van Jaco Pastorius gaan de remmen echt los en klimt het quintet naar grote hoogte. Track drie is de ballad You’re reading my mind van Joris Teepe. Een langzaam stuk in de stijl van het Miles Davis Quintet uit midden jaren zestig. Behalve mooie composities levert Joris Teepe ook gedegen baswerk. Hij heeft een heel speciaal geluid op de bas, maar dat past prachtig in het concept van deze band. Zijn beat is vloeiend en waar nodig weet hij de muziek te voorzien van tegendraadse baspartijen. Zijn andere composities; Raw Fish en Flight #643 getuigen van een goede smaak en geven een mooie mix van hedendaags werk en meer traditionele vormen. Het titelstuk Judgement Day komt voor op beide cd’s en staat ook op beide als vierde track. Dit door Lawrence Clark geschreven werk is een echte “Burner” waarin vooral de componist zelf laat horen waarin hij allemaal in staat is. Lawrence Clark heeft een apart bijna sinister tenorgeluid. Zijn lijnen zijn snel, complex en intens. Ik denk dat we nog veel van deze man gaan horen. De vijfde compositie Shied Indeed is van het jongste bandlid; trompettist Jumaane Smith. Hier horen we ook weer een talent aan het werk. Trompet technisch lijkt alles vlekkeloos te gaan. Veder speelt hij mooie lijnen en weet “het hoog” smaakvol toe te passen. Via het al eerder genoemde Raw Fish van Joris Teepe, The Big Push van Wayne Shorter en M.O. van James “Blood” Ulmer komen we met Multi Culti van Don Cherry aan het eind van volume 1.

Volume 2 wordt geopend met Skane’s Refrain.. Wederom een swingend werkje waarin het kwintet zich geheel kan uitleven. De componist van dit stuk, pianist Greg Murphy, heeft al een lange staat van dienst en speelt al sinds 1987 samen met Rashied Ali. Murphy is een alerte maar wel soms wat drukke begeleider en soleert avontuurlijk. Zijn spel bevat nogal veel McCoy Tyner elementen en ook Don Pullen is hem waarschijnlijk niet onbekend.
Een cd met vele hoogtepunten kent natuurlijk ook een dieptepunt. En dat komt in de gedaante van Lush Life. Op zich een hele mooie ballad maar het arrangement van Jumaane Smith is teveel kitsch naar mijn smaak waardoor het stuk zijn karakter verliest. Verder met Thing for Joe van James “Blood” Ulmer waarin vooral Rashied Ali hoorbaar moeite heeft met het hoge tempo en ook dit stuk verzand in een brij. De vijf heren pakken de swingende draad weer op met de tweede versie van Judgement Day, die overigens niet veel afwijkt van de versie op volume 1. Monk komt nog aan bod met Round Midnight waarbij het intro verdacht veel lijkt op een Herbie Hancock arrangement wat hij maakte voor de film Round Midnight.
Ook volume 2 eindigt met Don Cherry’s Multi Culti. Ook hier weer weinig verschil met de eerdere take.

Na het beluisteren van beide volumes heb je wel even wat chillin’ time nodig. De hoeveelheid energie die over je wordt uitgestort is niet mis.
Toch vraag ik me wel af of het niet beter was geweest om de hoogtepunten op één cd te zetten. Judgement Day volume 2 kent duidelijk zwakkere momenten en enkele doublures.
De geluidskwaliteit is zeer direct en vooral bas en drums zijn prominent in de mix aanwezig. De cd klinkt alsof de musici in je huiskamer staan, bijna live dus.

Judgement Day Volume 1 is zeker een aanrader. Deze cd zal niet overal makkelijk te verkrijgen zijn, mijn exemplaar komt deze keer bij Jazz Center in Den Haag vandaan.

René de Hilster voor www.jazzpodium.nl

Rashied Ali Quintet
Lawrence Clark – tenorsax
Jumaane Smith – trumpet
Greg Murphy – piano
Joris Teepe – bass
Rashied Ali – drums

Tracks
Volume 1
1, Sidewalks In Motion; 2, Dania; 3, You’re reading my mind; 4, Judgement Day; 5, Shied Indeed; 6, Raw Fish; 7, The big push; 8, M.O.; 9, Multi Culti.

Volume 2
1, Skane’s refrain; 2, Lush life; 3, Thing for Joe; 4, Judgement Day; 5, Flight #643; 6, Round midnight; 7, Yesterday/Tomorrow; 8, Multi Culti.
Survival Records SR 121 & SR 122

Rashied Ali Quintet

Zoals Steve Grossman waarschijnlijk zijn hele carrière aangekondigd zal worden als de man die bij Miles Davis speelde, zo zal Rashied Ali altijd herinnerd worden aan zijn tijd bij John Coltrane. De inmiddels eenenzeventigjarige drummer lijkt daar weinig moeite mee te hebben. Door de McCoy Tyner achtige akkoorden die pianist Greg Murphy in het venijnige, door hem geschreven openingsnummer speelde, lag het eerste stuk in de lijn van het bekendste werk van de meester. Trompettist Jumaane Smith voegde daar behalve een solo nog een Coltrane-citaatje aan toe, maar het was vooral de imposant lange en vlammende solo van tenorsaxofonist Lawrence Clark die de suggestie wekte dat het Rashied Ali Quintet, trouw aan zijn wortels, een wervelend optreden zou geven. In het door Joris Teepe (die binnen twee dagen met twee legendes op de planken stond) geschreven “You read my mind” werd het tempo echter onmiddellijk flink teruggeschroefd. Een mooie ballad, maar het vuur was er meteen een beetje uit en het bleek moeilijker dan gedacht om de vlam weer aan te wakkeren. Clark leek na die weergaloze solo zijn kruit enigszins verschoten te hebben en de ongemeen hard blazende Smith was vooral in de ensembles niet altijd trefzeker. Net als de beide blazers heeft Murphy heel wat in zijn mars, maar of hij kreeg de kans niet vaak genoeg of hij nam haar te laat om zijn talent te etaleren. Joris Teepe leek beter in zijn element dan de avond ervoor bij Grossman en de onverminderde energie van de oude Ali werkt hoe dan ook aanstekelijk. En toch; na “You read my mind” werden Wayne Shorters “The big push” en Don Cherry’s “Multi Culti” gespeeld. In het afsluitende “Cherokee” laste Ali een lange drumsolo in . Een overtuigende demonstratie van zijn technische kunnen, maar zoals zo veel drumsolo’s muzikaal maar matig interessant. Soms is de som meer dan de delen, soms is het andersom. De muzikanten waren goed, op het songmateriaal viel niets aan te merken en toch bleef ik het gevoel houden dat er iets aan ontbrak. Precies vierentwintig uur daarvoor had Terence Blanchard op dezelfde plek een concert gegeven waarbij iedereen de geest had en boven zichzelf uitsteeg. Misschien dat het daardoor leek of het Rashied Ali Quintet niet het toppunt van zijn kunnen wist te bereiken. Ik krijg mijn vingers er niet achter wat er nu precies miste, maar het concert was gewoon goed. Niets minder, maar helaas ook niets meer.

Pure JazzFest