Rashied Ali

Biography

When Rashied Ali stepped in as second drummer for John Coltrane, the group broke away from traditional conceptions of swing and time. This brought broad implications for jazz, but also planted the seeds of discontent in Coltrane's first drummer, Elvin Jones. Ali confidently defied the laws of time-keeping; he figured, if Coltrane and Ornette Coleman were veering away from standard conceptions of harmony, why stick to a rigid swing? This is not to say Ali doesn't have a soulful swing feel -- he does, just not to a standard 4/4 beat. Rather, his drumming pulses and bubbles over with fills, implying meters and shades of rhythm that echo the avant-garde explorations of his melodic counterparts. Over the years he's proven that he's not strictly a Free Jazz artist -- his work on Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchidananda isn't completely free, but it is stunningly beautiful. Collaborations with others, from guitarist James Blood Ulmer to saxophonist Frank Lowe, exhibit Ali's stunning empathy and ability to listen, combined with an explosive style that seemed to develop out of nowhere in the '60s.
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