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Rashied Ali
Born Robert Patterson
(1933-07-01)July 1, 1933
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died August 12, 2009(2009-08-12) (aged 76)
New York City
Occupation Musician
Years active 1963–2009

Rashied Ali, born Robert Patterson (July 1, 1933 – August 12, 2009[1] was an American free jazz and avant-garde drummer best known for playing with John Coltrane in the last years of Coltrane's life.[2]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Patterson was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His family was musical; his mother sang with Jimmie Lunceford.[3] His brother, Muhammad Ali, is also a drummer, who played with Albert Ayler. Ali, his brother, and his father converted to Islam.[4]

Starting off as a pianist he eventually took up the drums, via trumpet and trombone. He joined the United States Army and played with military bands during the Korean War. After his military service, he returned home and studied with Philly Joe Jones.[1]

Career[edit | edit source]

Ali moved to New York in 1963 and worked in groups with Bill Dixon and Paul Bley.[3]:171 He was scheduled to be the second drummer alongside Elvin Jones on John Coltrane's free jazz album Ascension, but he dropped out just before the recording was to take place.[1] Coltrane did not replace him and settled for one drummer. Ali recorded with Coltrane beginning in 1965 on the album Meditations.

Among his credits are the last recorded work by Coltrane (The Olatunji Concert) and Interstellar Space, an album of duets recorded earlier in 1967. Ali "became important in stimulating the most avant-garde kinds of jazz activities."[5] After Coltrane's death, Ali performed with his widow, pianist Alice Coltrane.[1] During the early 1970s, he ran Ali's Alley, a loft club in New York City.[6]

Rashied Ali in a duo with Billy Bang at the Koncept Cultural Gallery, Oakland, California, July 26, 1991

He was a visiting artist at Wesleyan University, sponsored by Clifford Thornton. He also briefly formed a non-jazz group called Purple Trap with Japanese experimental guitarist Keiji Haino and jazz-fusion bassist Bill Laswell. Their album, Decided...Already the Motionless Heart of Tranquility, Tangling the Prayer Called "I", was released by Tzadik Records in March 1999.

In the 1980s, he was member of Phalanx, a group with guitarist James Blood Ulmer, tenor saxophonist George Adams, and bassist Sirone. From 1997–2003 he played extensively with Tisziji Munoz in a group that usually included Pharoah Sanders.

Though known for his work in jazz, Ali contributed to other experimental art forms, including multi-media performances with the Gift of Eagle Orchestra and Cosmic Legends, performances such as Devachan and the Monads, Dwarf of Oblivion, which took place at the Kitchen Center for Performance Art, and a tribute to John Cage in Central Park. Other artists of the orchestra and Cosmic Legends have included Hayes Greenfield (sax), Perry Robinson (clarinet), Wayne Lopes (guitar), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Gloria Tropp (vocals), director/pianist Sylvie Degiez along with poets and actors Ira Cohen, Taylor Mead, and Judith Malina.

Later life[edit | edit source]

In the last years of his life, Ali led his own quintet. A double album entitled Judgment Day was recorded in February 2005 and features Jumaane Smith on trumpet, Lawrence Clark on tenor saxophone, Greg Murphy on piano, and Joris Teepe on bass. This album was recorded at Ali's own Survival Studio, which has been in existence since the 1970s. In addition to his performance activities Ali served as mentor to young drummers such as Matt Smith.

In 2007, Ali recorded "Going to the Ritual" in duo with bassist/violinist Henry Grimes with a second duo recording in post-production at the time of Ali's death. Ali and Grimes also played five duo concerts together between 2007 and 2009 and a sixth concert in June 2007 with pianist Marilyn Crispell. Ali is the featured drummer on Azar Lawrence's album Mystic Journey, recorded in April 2009 and released in May 2010.

Rashied Ali died at age 76 in a Manhattan hospital after suffering a heart attack.[7][8] He is survived by wife Patricia and three children.

Discography[edit | edit source]

As leader[edit | edit source]

  • 1971 – New Directions in Modern Music (Survival, reissued by Knit Classics) with Carlos Ward, Fred Simmons, Stafford James
  • 1972 – Duo Exchange (Survival, reissued by Knit Classics) with Frank Lowe
  • 1973 – Swift Are the Winds of Life (Survival, reissued by Knit Classics) with Leroy Jenkins
  • 1973 – Rashied Ali Quintet (Survival, reissued by Knit Classics) with James Blood Ulmer
  • 1974 – Moon Flight (Knitting Factory)
  • 1975 – N.Y. Ain't So Bad (Survival, reissued by Knit Classics)
  • 1989 – Rashied Ali in France (Blue Music Group)
  • 1994 – Peace on Earth: The Music of John Coltrane (Knitting Factory) with Prima Materia and guests John Zorn, Allan Chase
  • 1995 – Meditations (Knitting Factory) with Prima Materia, including Greg Murphy
  • 1995 – Bells (Knitting Factory) with Prima Materia
  • 1999 – Rings of Saturn (Knitting Factory), duets with tenor saxophonist Louie Belogenis
  • 2000 – Live at Tonic (DIW) with Wilber Morris
  • 2008 – Going to the Ritual (Porter) with bassist Henry Grimes
  • 2009 – At the Vision Festival with Greg Tardy, James Hurt, Omer Avital (Blue Music Group)
  • 2009 – Eddie Jefferson at Ali's Alley with Eddie Jefferson (Blue Music Group)
  • 2009 – Configurations, the Music of John Coltrane with Prima Materia (Blue Music Group)
  • 2009 – Cutt'n Korners with Greg Tardy, Antoine Drye and Abraham Burton (Blue Music Group)
  • 2010 – Spirits Aloft (Porter) with bassist Henry Grimes

As sideman[edit | edit source]

With Gary Bartz

With Peter Brötzmann

  • Songlines (1991)

With Michael Bocian

  • "Go Groove"" (1991)

With Marion Brown

  • Marion Brown Quartet (1966)
  • Why Not? (1967)

With John Coltrane

With Charles Gayle

With Jackie McLean

With Tisziji Munoz

  • The River of Blood (Anami Music, 1997)
  • Present Without A Trace (Anami Music, 1997)
  • Spirit World (Anami Music, 1997)
  • Presence of Truth (Anami Music, 1999)
  • Presence of Joy (Anami Music, 1999)
  • Presence of Mastery (Anami Music, 1999)
  • Breaking the Wheel of Life and Death (Anami Music, 2000)
  • Parallel Reality (Anami Music, 2000)
  • The Hu-Man Spirit (Anami Music, 2001)
  • Shaman-Bala (Anami Music, 2002)
  • Divine Radiance (Anami Music, 2003)
  • Divine Radiance Live! (Anami Music, 2013)
  • Paul Shaffer Presents: Tisziji Muñoz – Divine Radiance Live! DVD (Anami Music, 2013)
  • Sky Worlds (Anami Music, 2014)

With David Murray

With Phalanx

  • Original Phalanx (1987)
  • In Touch (1988)

With Alice Coltrane

With Alan Shorter

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Grimes, William (13 August 2009). "Rashied Ali, Jazz Drummer, Dies". https://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/rashied-ali-jazz-drummer-dies/?hp. Retrieved 15 September 2017. 
  2. Cook, Richard (2005). Richard Cook's Jazz Encyclopedia (1. publ. ed.). London: Penguin. p. 7. ISBN 0-141-00646-3. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wilmer, Valerie (1977). As Serious as Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz. London: Allison & Busby. p. 259. ISBN 0-85031-224-8. 
  4. "Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians". Jazz.com. http://jazz.com/encyclopedia/2009/8/14/ali-rashied-patterson-jr-robert. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  5. Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958. New York, N.Y.: Da Capo Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-306-80377-1. 
  6. Wynn, Ron; Erlewine, Michael; Bogdanov, Vladimir, eds (1994). All Music Guide to Jazz: The Best CDs, Albums & Tapes. San Francisco: Miller Freeman. ISBN 0-87930-308-5. 
  7. "R.I.P. Rashied Ali (1935–2009)". Inlog.org. August 13, 2009. http://inlog.org/2009/08/13/r-i-p-rashied-ali-1935-2009/. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  8. "Le batteur de jazz Rashied Ali est mort". fr: Citizenjazz.com. http://www.citizenjazz.com/article3462906.html. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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