R.I.P. Rashied Ali (1935 – 2009)

August 13, 2009


Legendary jazz drummer Rashied Ali died today according to citizenjazz.com. Ali did some great late recordings with John Coltrane and is one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time.
RASHIED ALI Biography:
Rashied Ali was born into a musical family; his mother had sung with Jimmie Lunceford. His brother, Muhammad Ali, is also a drummer, who played with Albert Ayler, among others.

Ali moved to New York in 1963 and worked in groups with Bill Dixon and Paul Bley. He has also recorded or performed with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Arthur Rhames, James Blood Ulmer and many others. In addition, Ali was scheduled to be the second drummer, alongside Elvin Jones, on John Coltrane’s landmark free jazz album Ascension, but he dropped out just before the recording was to take place. Coltrane did not replace him, and settled for one drummer. Ali began to record with Coltrane from Meditations in November 1965 onwards.

Among his credits are the last recorded work of John Coltrane’s life (The Olatunji Concert) and Interstellar Space, an album of duets with Coltrane recorded earlier in 1967. Ali “became important in stimulating the most avant-garde kinds of jazz activities”. During the early 1970s, he ran an influential loft club in New York, called Ali’s Alley. Ali also briefly formed a non-jazz project called Purple Trap with Japanese experimental guitarist Keiji Haino and jazz-fusion bassist Bill Laswell. Their double-CD album, Decided…Already the Motionless Heart of Tranquility, Tangling the Prayer Called “I”, was released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label in March of 1999.

Though most known for his work in the Jazz idiom, Rashied Ali has also made his contributions to other experimental art forms including multi-media performances with The Gift of Eagle Orchestra and Cosmic Legends. Performances such as Devachan and the Monads, Dwarf of Oblivion which took place at the Kitchen center for performance Art, and a special tribute to John Cage in Central Park, have taken ‘Performance Art’ to new levels with the addition of fully improvised large scale performance pieces. Other artists of the orchestra and Cosmic Legends have included Hayes Greenfield (sax), Perry Robinson (clarinet), Wayne Lopes (guitar), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Gloria Tropp (vocals), director/pianist Sylvie Degiez along with Poets and actors, Ira Cohen, Taylor Meade, Judith Malina (Living Theater). More recently, Ali has played with Sonny Fortune.

Rashied Ali has recently been playing with his own Quintet, The Rashied Ali Quintet. A double CD entitled Judgment Day was released on February 17, 2005 and features: Jumaane Smith on Trumpet, Lawrence Clark on Tenor Sax, Greg Murphy on Piano, Joris Teepe on Bass and Rashied Ali on Drums. This album was recorded at Ali’s own Survival Studio which has been running since the 1970s.

R.I.P. Rashied Ali
July 1
, 1935

12 August, 2009

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