According to several sources, including citizenjazz.com, legendary jazz drummer Rashied Ali, who was one of the greatest jazz drummers of all time, died yesterday at age 74. The cause of Ali's death has not yet been announced, but the artist, who did some great recordings with John Coltrane, had been active in his craft up until recently, playing with his own group, the Rashied Ali Quintet. A few years ago they recorded the double CD Judgment Day.
As well as working with Coltrane, the drummer had also recorded or performed with such artists as Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Arthur Rhames and James Blood Ulmer. As jazz legend has it, Ali was supposed to be the second drumme on John Coltrane’s 1965 landmark free jazz album Ascension in tandem with drummer Elvin Jones, but at the last minute he dropped out. Coltrane decided to scrap the two drummer scenario and proceeded to record with just Jones on percussion.
Soon after, however, Ali began to record with Coltrane. Along with Pharoah Sanders, he is a featured artist on the avant garde Coltrane album Meditations. Ali's other Coltrane collaborations included Interstellar Space in 1967 and The Olatunji Concert -- one of Coltrane's later recordings.
A few decades ago he ran the club Ali's Alley in New York. He also worked outside of jazz music from time to time, forming the Purple Trap project with Japanese experimental guitarist Keiji Haino and jazz-fusion bassist Bill Laswell. Additionally, he made contributions to experimental, multi-media performances with such groups as The Gift of Eagle Orchestra and Cosmic Legends, and was part of a special tribute to John Cage in Central Park. Below is a video of the late drummer along with Don Cherry (pocket trumpet) and James Blood Ulmer (guitar) in concert along with voiceover commentary on the three great improv jazz artists.