Taking Elvin Jones
' vaunted place in John Coltrane
's eternal journey beyond the expected, Rashied Ali
's mutable, intuitively malleable sense of time, at once both visceral and disembodied, propelled the saxophonist further into his explorations of music as a free, transcendent, spiritual entity. Although he continued to innovate with Alice Coltrane
and Archie Shepp
and influence musicians down the generations, Ali stepped outside the spotlight after Coltrane's death in 1967. Active in the '70s, Ali founded his own record label and even opened his own club, Ali's Alley in lower Manhattan. As the years pulled away, Ali gigged and recorded sporadically until his death in 2009.
Dutch bassist Joris Teepe
anchored the Rashied Ali Quintet from 2001 until the leader's passing. Affected deeply by the loss, Teepe began to conceive a fitting homage. Nearly ten years later, Teepe succeeds beautifully in capturing Ali's inspiration with In The Spirit of Rashied Ali
Packaged handsomely with a hard-bound, sixty-six-page booklet explaining the origins and workings of the project, as well as containing interviews with Ali's brother, Muhamed, and Ali's wife, Patricia, who opens her home and Ali's recording studio to the bassist, the eight-song CD is a fluid mix of Ali's atonal leanings, improvisation, and concise, spirited ensemble playing. On Don Cherry
's gnarly "Multi Kulti," saxophonist Johannes Enders
and drummer John Betsch
light the fuse, echoing Ali and Coltrane from Interstellar Space
(Impulse, 1974). Teepe's own "Holland America" and "Alphabet" are full swagger, old-school delights, with each player free to roam the groove. The cornerstone track, "Rashied Ali Suite," arranged by Teepe, featuring Wayne Escoffery
on sax, is a five-part collection of Ali compositions flowing seamlessly and sweetly through time and meter. Teepe and Ali have many reasons to be proud.
Multi Kulti; Holland America; Rashied Ali Suite; Turnaround; Alphabet; Think Of One; Bolivar Blues; Sidewalks In Motion.
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.