Ali, Rashied

  • Birth name: Robert Patterson
  • Born: July 1, 1933 Philadelphia, PA USA
  • Died: August 12, 2009 (Age 76)
  • AKA: Rashied Ali
  • Genres: Jazz
  • Occupation: Musician
  • Instruments: Drums
  • Years Active: 1963-2009
  • Labels: Tzadik
  • Associated Acts: John Coltrane, Philanx
  • On the Web: RashiedAli.org

Rashied played piano, trumpet, and trombone before switching to the drums. He played in the United States Army band during the Korean War. He returned home after his military service and studied with Philly Joe Jones.

In 1963 Ali moved to New York and worked in groups with Bill Dixon and Paul Bley. He was also 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. Ali started to record with Coltrane from Meditations in November 1965 on.

Among Rashied’s credits are the last recorded work of John Coltrane’s life (The Olatunji Concert) and Interstellar Space, an album of duets with Coltrane recorded in 1967. Rashied 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 Records label in March 1999.

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

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.

In the last years of his life, Rashied led his own quintet and in February 2005, recorded a double CD entitled Judgment Day that features Jumaane Smith on trumpet, Lawrence Clark on tenor sax, Greg Murphy on piano and Joris Teepe on bass. The album was recorded at Rashied’s own Survival Studio, which has been in existence since the 1970s. In addition to performing, Rashied mentored numerous young drummers including Matt Smith.

In 2007, Rashied recorded Going to the Ritual in duo with bassist/violinist Henry Grimes (Porter Records), with a second duo recording in post-production at the time of his death. Rashied and Grimes also played five duo concerts together between 2007 and 2009, and a sixth one in June 2007 with pianist Marilyn Crispell. He is also 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. He is survived by wife Patricia and three children.

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