Although rightfully revered as one of the fathers of avant-garde drumming for his role in John Coltrane's last band, Rashied Ali grew up in Philadelphia during the heyday of hard bop, so it should come as no surprise to find him at the helm of a group that reflects the influence of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Max Roach-Clifford Brown Quintet, as much as that of the freer music that flowed from the font of Coltrane. This second volume of Judgment Day (for his recently revived Survival label) shows off Ali's deeply rooted rhythmatism as he drives his talented sidemen through a program of their own fine compositions, original arrangements of "Lush Life and "'Round Midnight, and rousing readings of two rarely heard pieces: James Blood Ulmer's "Thing for Joe and Don Cherry's "Multi-Culti. [sic]
Pianist Greg Murphy's mood setting opener, "Skane's Refrain, begins as a Messenger-like anthem and then moves into a modal mood reminiscent of Trane's "Impressions, propelled by Joris Teepe's insistent walking bass and the leader's irrepressible drumming. In trumpeter Jumaane Smith and tenor man Lawrence Clark, Ali has found two unusually strong young horn players who meet the difficult demands of the music with admirable assurance. Each also proves to be a capable composerthe former with the multifarious "Yesterday (J-Man) Tomorrow and the latter on the Eastern-tinged title track. Teepe too shows off his writing chops with the enigmatically moody "Flight #643. But this is primarily a fine blowing date with intelligently composed charts built around Ali's uniquely cliché-free personal style.