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R.I.P. Rashied Ali

Posted by Sarah Rodman  August 13, 2009 01:08 PM

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Music editor Steve Greenlee checks in with this sad news:

The great free jazz drummer Rashied Ali has died, according to a note on his official website.

Ali was best known for his work with John Coltrane during the saxophone legend's final years, most notably on the groundbreaking duets album "Interstellar Space." Ali, 74, worked in many styles of jazz, from bebop to free improv, and in the late 1980s he formed the free-jazz trio By Any Means with saxophonist Charles Gayle and bassist William Parker. That trio -- which made one of free jazz's finest records, 1993's "Touchin' on Trane" -- was supposed to play the Newport jazz festival Sunday, but Ali was ill, so his brother Muhammad -- also an outstanding drummer -- subbed for him.

In an interview with the Globe last month, Ali talked about the trio, which has performed on and off for the past 20 years. Last year the group released an excellent two-disc set, "Live at Crescendo," which was recorded at a concert in Sweden. Ali told the Globe he was looking forward to performing more concerts this fall.

"I really like this group a lot," Ali said in the interview. "I really do love playing free-form music. That's my thing. ... I like playing bebop, I like playing the changes, but I am really at heart at free jazz drummer. That's what I love doing."


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Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

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