June 2009

Rashied Ali Quintet
at The Art of Jazz
June 7, 2009 Trinity Stage Toronto
A report by David Fujino with photo by Mike Colyer
The Rashied Ali Quintet was all about building on the memories and sounds of late 60's John Coltrane, with a slight twist.

Ali has younger players with him.

Like Josh Evans, whose trumpet had all the energy and hard-playing technique of the recently departed Freddie Hubbard.

Or tenor saxophonist Lawrence Clark who insistently kept dissecting the music's flow into smaller modular groupings of notes.

Rashied Ali
Or pianist Greg Murphy who fell victim to the sound technicians but nevertheless came through with affirming melodic elaborations and necessary tonal guideposts. Unfortunately the veterans, bass player Don Paton and drummer Ali, didn't fare as well, either, in terms of being 'under mic'-ed.

But all this aside, in Ali's tune, "Skane's Refrain", a drum solo became an effective rhythmic crux for the later piano inventions of Greg Murphy and the seeking trumpet of Evans.

And in Coltrane's "Central Park West", the veteran Don Paton's deep-toned pizzicato bass feature was prelude to the soberly stated trumpet/tenor theme. The solos from an inquisitive trumpet and Clark's contemplative tenor stood out in this tune.

Now, Rashid Ali's a veteran drummer who's worked with people like John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, and Jackie McLean — and he can lay claim to a place in jazz history — for during Coltrane's last days, Ali recorded a series of inspiring cosmic-themed duets with the master saxophonist.

But today in 2009, Rashid Ali's late 60's post bop — which borders on the near side of free — became an almost discomfiting object lesson, in and of itself.

Getting younger players to vitalize older forms seems a no-brainer, but without a change in your forms, that often elusive thing — lift-off — is not achievable.

The Rashied Ali Quintet
Rashied Ali — drums
Josh Evans — trumpet
Lawrence Clark — tenor saxophone
Greg Murphy — piano
Don Paton — acoustic bass
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Mike Colyer
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The Live Music Report

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