As it goes on our city site in New York, the same day that brings news of Les Paul's death marks the passing of another musical great: fiery, ferocious, and finesse-filled jazz drummer Rashied Ali. He died at Bellevue Hospital in New York, evidently from causes related to a blocked artery. He was 76.
Ali could be a pummeling bad-ass on drums, but he had an awful lot of touch too, with an ear for imaginative sprays and a mind for meditative ruminations. He's best-known for his playing on a rash of John Coltrane albums that went waaaaay out there on a free-jazz tip starting in the mid-'60s, and he also played in various roles with Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, and William Parker.
Ali played on a lot of really good albums, but an especially classic one—and the one we just happened to pull down from the shelf a few days ago, in retrospect kind of eerily—is Interstellar Space, a 1967 duo album pairing Ali with Coltrane at his most searching. It's just two guys playing, but it stays compelling throughout... and all the more compelling as it lodges deeper and deeper into your memory.