Friday, August 14, 2009

The right stuff...

Rashied Ali obviously had it. Besides Coltrane in Coltrane's later period, he banged the cans behind Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler and Pharaoh Sanders, not to mention Don Cherry and William Parker, among others, not that you need many others in terms of free jazz with that lineup alone.

Still, Elvin Jones is always my favorite Coltrane drummer. They were just meant to be (The Drum Thing on Crescent would be Exhibit A, a Love Supreme Exhibit B). Rashied Ali and Coltrane were more of an opportunistic, albeit it fortunate, coupling. They needed each other to go where they were going musically at the time and they evolved into a complimentary pair. (Everybody thinks of their duet session Interstellar Space in this context, and it is a good example; I think it is maybe even more evident on Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording.) But it wasn't a no brainer, as was the pairing of Coltrane and Jones (nor is the music Coltrane and Ali made; it requires intellectual engagement). This tension makes Coltrane's Meditations, where he used both Jones and Ali, a pretty fascinating listen with a whole lot of drumming in it. Listening to Meditations, Interstellar Space and Olatunji in succession provides a good view of the partnership.

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