Rashied Ali  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Rashied Ali, born Robert Patterson (1 July 1935, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania12 August, 2009, Manhattan) was an American free jazz and avant-garde jazz drummer best known for playing with John Coltrane in the last years of Coltrane's life.



Rashied Ali family was musical; his mother had sung with Jimmie Lunceford. His brother, Muhammad Ali, is also a drummer, who played with Albert Ayler, among others.

Ali moved to New York in 1963 and worked in groups with Bill Dixon and Paul Bley. He has also recorded or performed with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Arthur Rhames, James Blood Ulmer and many others. In addition, Ali was scheduled to be the second drummer, alongside Elvin Jones, on John Coltrane's landmark free jazz album Ascension, but he dropped out just before the recording was to take place. Coltrane did not replace him, and settled for one drummer. Ali began to record with Coltrane from Meditations in November 1965 onwards.

Among his credits are the last recorded work of John Coltrane's life (The Olatunji Concert) and Interstellar Space, an album of duets with Coltrane recorded earlier in 1967. During the early 1970s, he ran an influential loft club in New York, called Ali's Alley. Ali also briefly formed a non-jazz project called Purple Trap with Japanese experimental guitarist Keiji Haino and jazz-fusion bassist Bill Laswell. Their double-CD album, Decided...Already the Motionless Heart of Tranquility, Tangling the Prayer Called "I", was released on John Zorn's Tzadik label in March of 1999.

Though most known for his work in the Jazz idiom, Rashied Ali also made his contributions 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 special tribute to John Cage in Central Park, have taken 'Performance Art' to new levels with the addition of fully improvised large scale performance pieces. 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, Judith Malina (Living Theater). More recently, Ali has played with Sonny Fortune.

In the last years of his life, Rashied Ali led his own eponymous Quintet. A double CD entitled Judgment Day was recorded in February 2005 and features: Jumaane Smith on Trumpet, Lawrence Clark on Tenor Sax, Greg Murphy on Piano, Joris Teepe on Bass and Rashied Ali on Drums. This album was recorded at Ali's own Survival Studio, which has been in existence since the 1970s.

In 2007, Ali recorded "Going to the Ritual" in duo with bassist / violinist Henry Grimes (Porter Records #PRCD-4005), 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.

Rashied Ali died on 12 August 2009 in a New York City hospital after suffering a heart attack and undergoing heart surgery.


As leader

As sideman

With John Coltrane

With Marion Brown

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

With Alan Shorter

  • Orgasm (1968)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rashied Ali" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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