In 1990 I interviewed drummer Rashied Ali for The World According to John Coltrane, a documentary produced and directed by Toby Byron. It was the first but not the last time I spoke to Ali, a sorely underrated musician and jazz presence who died yesterday (August 12, 2009) following a heart attack at age 74. Here’s a transcript of our talk, slightly edited and annotated, mostly about Coltrane, with whom Ali became famous.
He describes hearing the saxophonist practicing at his mother’s home in Philadelphia, how he first began to play with Coltrane, Trane’s dedication to improving his instrumental skills, their tour of Japan, of dreaming about Coltrane and of their duet recording Interstellar Space. Only excerpts were used in the film.