Rashied Ali

The Rings of Saturn

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Rashied Ali was 62 when, in August 1997, he recorded Rings of Saturn, a collection of duets with tenor saxophonist Louie Belogenis. But the drummer was showing no signs of mellowing with age -- he was still committed to avant-garde jazz and outside improvisation, and he still had an uncompromising take-it-or-leave-it mindset. Because of its tenor/drums format, Rings of Saturn is bound to be compared to Interstellar Space, Ali's 1967 duet with John Coltrane. Belogenis, in fact, has been greatly influenced by late-period Trane as well as the innovations of Albert Ayler. But he's also his own man, and the saxman makes that clear on original material as well as fiery, intensely emotional performances of the Trane pieces "Saturn" (which was heard on Interstellar Space) and "Seraphic Light." Rings of Saturn falls short of essential, but it's a heartfelt, satisfying date that admirers of free jazz will enjoy.

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