Henry Grimes / Rashied Ali

Spirits Aloft

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This live recording from February 2009 documents the second and presumably final collaboration between bassist Henry Grimes, who'd been absent from the music scene for decades until returning in 2002, and drummer Rashied Ali, who died six months after this concert. Ali was probably best known for his collaboration with John Coltrane during the last three years of the saxophonist's life, but he made numerous important albums under his own name and in collaboration with various other players. Grimes was a highly in-demand bassist during the free jazz era, performing with Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Don Cherry, and others before disappearing from the music scene around 1970. On this recording, Grimes switches back and forth between bass and violin, and between somewhat conventional free jazz playing and atmospheric pieces during which neither he nor Ali offer any kind of melodic or rhythmic structure, instead improvising in a quietly intense way that forces the listener to wonder who's making what sound. The drummer's powerful soloing on "Larger Astronomical Time" is a highlight of his performance, and Grimes is shown to best effect on the exhausting "Arcopanorama." When the bassist first reappeared on the scene, he was extremely rusty, but free jazz fans welcomed him back because of his pedigree. With this release, and a few before it, he proves that his chops have returned and he's every bit the player he was in the '60s.

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