Rashied Ali's Tuesday night residency at Sweet Rhythm found him playing duets throughout November with alto saxophonist Sonny Fortune. Stretching doesn't begin to describe these improvisational whirlwinds, mostly standards - may the residency continue. Ali has had a busy 2002 - playing Tonic with Fortune only weeks before, preparing for a double-duo concert at Columbia on December 6th, and also releasing a disc titled No One In Particular
some months ago.
The session itself dates back to 1992; Ali took about ten years to release it on his own Survival imprint. The veteran drummer is known mainly for his associations with John and Alice Coltrane, and here he teams up with the young sons of two important former colleagues. Tenor and soprano saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, son of John and Alice, would soon establish himself as an important player in his own right; on this album he sounds rough and unformed, but not without promise. Matthew Garrison, son of John Coltrane's bassist, the late Jimmy Garrison, is one of the finest electric bass players of his generation. He is also the most compelling soloist on this session, next to Ali himself. Completing the lineup are pianist Greg Murphy (of Ali's Prima Materia ensemble) and guitarist Gene Shimosato, now known as Gene Ess, whose playing has grown considerably in the intervening years.
This quintet session is very straight ahead and also a bit slender at six tracks and under 50 minutes. Murphy's up-tempo title cut leads off and finds Ali stretching out toward the end. Wayne Shorter's "Witch Hunt" stays faithful to the original; Shimosato doubles the melody in a very high register, making it sound rather shrill. Garrison's solo on Sonelius Smith's "Blues for Annik" comes as a surprise in that it is largely unaccompanied, yet still in tempo. Shimosato weighs in with a mid-tempo swing tune called "Not Now, Later," and Coltrane's soprano solo over the dark middle section of Jaco Pastorius' "Three Views of a Secret" yields one of the albums more inspired moments. To close out the session, Coltrane offers "For Alice," an up-tempo swinger with busy harmonies that vaguely recall his father's Prestige period. Ali comes across mainly as a mentor, leading the assembled players during an early stage in their development.
Personnel: Rashied Ali: drums; Ravi Coltrane: tenor and soprano saxophones;
Matthew Garrison: electric bass; Greg Murphy: piano; Gene Shimosato
(Gene Ess): guitar.