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Joris Teepe: In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali

Mark Corroto By

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In politics, as well as music, the revolutionaries rarely govern. With the exceptions of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Marion Brown, and Rashied Ali exemplify this theory. Thankfully, those fighting in the trenches alongside the insurgents, like Joris Teepe, are determined to keep their memory and spirit alive. The Dutch-born New York bassist performed and recorded with Rashied Ali for nine years until the drummer's death in 2009. This project preserves that relationship and is a much needed reminder of just how much of a force Ali was (can we say is?) in the jazz world.

History will note that Ali replaced Elvin Jones in Coltrane's band, recording with the saxophonist at the Village Vanguard, in Japan, and on the (now) classic 1967 duo session Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1974). History, though, does love pigeonholes, and with the passing of Coltrane, Ali, like many of the New Thing musicians, was cut free from major record labels. His response was to open a club, Ali's Alley, in the 1970s and create his own label, Survival Records. Listening to those recordings today, we find that Ali made no distinction between playing free and executing a composition's changes.

That is the spot where we find Teepe's ensemble. The bassist chose music he performed with Ali. Besides two originals, plus a suite of Ali's music, his band performs compositions by Thelonious Monk, Frank Lowe (also a member of the Rashied Ali Quintet), Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman.

It is clear why Ali chose the relatively unknown Teepe to hold down the bass chair in his ensemble. His presence is compelling and his sound is hard-bodied. Opening with Cherry's "Multi Kulti," Teepe constructs a solid structure of sound for saxophonist Johannes Enders and drummer John Betsch to color both inside and outside the lines. This theme is heard throughout. Coleman's "Turnabout" walks in as a slow blues, with Teepe playing the melody before guitarist Freddie Bryant exercises his blues chops. Teepe has fashioned music, like the two Monk compositions, to demonstrate just how hip playing inside the architecture of a brilliant piece can be. "Bolivar Blues" and Teepe's original "Alphabet" adds saxophonist Wayne Escoffrey and on the later piece a third horn alto saxophonist Michael Moore as an illustration of his arranging skills. The "Rashied Ali Suite" includes the drummer's compositions "As Salaam Alaikum," "Akeela," "Ballad," "Cuttin' Covers," and "Adrees." Teepe arranges the music to flow seamlessly and spontaneously, with Betsch cut free to sound, not like Ali but like Betsch.

The CD isn't the only gift to listeners here. It comes with a small 66-page book of photographs and interviews with Teepe, Patricia Ali, former Ali band members Greg Murphy, Jumaane Smith, Sonny Fortune, and Rashied's brother, drummer Muhammed Ali.

Track Listing: Multi Kulti; Holland America; Rashied Ali Suite; Turnaround; Alphabet; Think Of One; Bolivar Blues; Sidewalks In Motion.

Personnel: John Betsch: drums; Freddie Bryant: guitar; Wayne Escoffrey: tenor saxophone (3, 5, 7); Johannes Enders: tenor saxophone; Michael Moore: alto saxophone (5); Joris Teepe: double bass.

Title: In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Jazz Tribes


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