Though not as well known as his brother, drummer Rashied Ali
(1935-2009), Muhammad Ali spent the 1970s as one of the busiest drummers in free jazz, primarily working in a cooperative Paris-based quartet with saxophonist Frank Wright
, pianist Bobby Few
and bassist Alan Silva
, and known as the Center of the World Quartet. Born in Philadelphia in 1936 as Raymond Patterson, Ali has worked with many of the preeminent names in the jazz avant-garde, including saxophonists John Coltrane
, Albert Ayler
, Marion Brown
, Byard Lancaster
, Noah Howard
, Archie Shepp
, pianists Cecil Taylor
and Dave Burrell
, trumpeters Butch Morris
and Don Cherry
, and bassist William Parker
. Though after the Center of the World dissolved in 1984, Ali mostly retired from regular performance, he is slowly but surely reasserting his presence on the scene.
AAJ Contributor Clifford Allen spoke at length with Ali, about a career spent in the company of better-knowns including Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler, and kick-starting his career again in the new millennium.
Check out Muhammad Ali: From a Family of Percussionists at AAJ today!
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