The first track “Invocation: Trane Is In The House,” of this January 2001 live date just about describes it all. This trio formed from the embers of the creative luminescence that was John Coltrane sears through a New York winter evening. Drummer Rashied Ali is familiar with this territory, having held the drum chair from 1965 through 1967, the year of Coltrane’s death. Together Trane and Ali explored the outer reaches of free jazz, recording Meditations
, and Interstellar Space
. Ali’s drumming abandoned the pulse and timekeeping beats of Elvin Jones for the same freedom John Coltrane was pursuing.
Rashied Ali’s resurgence has paralleled the Downtown scene’s rediscovery of all things free. Together with saxophonist Louie Belogenis, Ali recorded three discs under the name Prima Materia in the mid-nineties and a duet Rings of Saturn for the Knitting Factory label.
This live date adds bassist Wilbur Morris (Billy Bang, Charles Gayle, and David Murray) to produce a stout free jazz unit. The opener churns from the get-go as Belogenis screams out lines against the pin-wheeling Ali and walking Morris. The triad of musicians can barely contain the burn; pausing briefly for a bass solo, Belogenis lays out and Ali rattles the snare. Then they are back at it conjuring the outer reaches of Coltrane’s vision.
The beauty of this session is the equal balance between these three. They vary the mood on the introspective “Red Shifting” and the driving “Norfolk Street Run Down.” “Heavenly Star,” dedicated to Albert Ayler, nicely captures the spirit of Ayler’s speech. The final (and all too short at 3:42) Coltrane Classic, “Spiritual,” acts as a processional lament, reminding one that free jazz is certainly rooted in the blues.
Track Listing: Invocation: Trane Is In The House; Elixir; Red Shifting; Norfolk Street Run Down; Heavenly Star; Brazilia; Spiritual.