Rashied Ali

Swift Are the Winds of Life

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Originally issued on the small Survival label and re-released by Knit Classics in 2000, Swift Are the Winds of Life represents one of the absolute finest examples of Jenkins' violin playing outside of his Revolutionary Ensemble and arguably one of Rashied Ali's greatest recordings aside from Interstellar Space, his legendary duo session with John Coltrane. A violin/drums duo may strike some as strange and unwieldy, but these musicians pull it off so well one never even considers any "lack" of depth or richness. Jenkins, more than any other violinist working in the jazz avant-garde, retained the cry of the blues even in his most abstract playing. In the title track, his plaintive, keening attack, from the delicate theme through its complex elaborations, is searing and supremely moving. Ali, in the tradition of Max Roach and Ed Blackwell, draws out the deeply musical tones in his drums, sometimes providing accompaniment for Jenkins, more often nestling in as equal partner. The compositions, all by Jenkins, range from torrid and in-your-face ("The Stomp") to bluesy to abstract, none of them especially difficult for the new listener. A very fine (if all too short) recording, one of the best to emerge from the New York City "loft jazz" scene of the '70s.

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