Rashied Ali, a drummer who applied his advanced technique to free jazz, died today in New York. He was 76. Born Robert Patterson, Ali became a disciple and close colleague of his fellow Philadelphian John Coltrane. He played on some of the most uninhibited recordings of Coltrane’s final years, including the astonishing Interstellar Space, a series of free duets. I was on a selection committee for Grammy nominations in 1974, the year Impulse! Records released Interstellar Space. Pianist Billy Taylor, one of the other members of the committee, said during the listening session, “I can’t imagine two people making more music than that.” It was a tour de force for both musicians. In this video clip from an Eastern European television program, Ali discusses Coltrane’s impact on his life and music.
Here is Ali with his quintet in June of 2008. The other players are tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clarik, trumpeter Josh Evans, pianist Greg Murphy and bassist Joris Teepe.
Rashied Ali, RIP.