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Artist: HENRY GRIMES/RASHIED ALI
Title: Spirits Aloft: Live At Gordon Theatre, Camden NJ February 7 2009
Label: Porter 4049           Country: USA
Format: CD           Status: AVAILABLE           $14.00

Description: This is the second disc to feature Henry Grimes on acoustic bass & violin and Rashied Ali on drums [the first, Going To The Ritual, a 2007 WKCR performance also on the Porter label]. When the great drummer Rashied Ali passed away last summer (2009), it was a great loss to all who follow the spiritual sounds of modern jazz for the past forty-plus years. Rashied Ali was one of the heavy spirits. He was John Coltrane's last drummer and can be heard on a number of classic Trane records like 'Interstellar Space' and 'Stellar Regions'. That was a long time ago and Rashied continued to blaze trails throughout his entire career. Legendary bassist Henry Grimes also was also amongst the modern jazz giants of the sixties until he mysteriously disappeared in the seventies. Mr. Grimes returned to the scene in the earlier part of this decade and has since made up for lost time by again playing with many of the current greats (David Murray, Paul Dunmall & Oluyemi Thomas to name a few). It seems like it was meant to be that these two master musicians would meet and play some cosmic music together.
Starting with a fine poem, the duo take off for the stratosphere. The first piece is called "Rapid Transit" and Mr. Grimes is wailing on violin while Rashied plays furiously spinning mallets on his drums. When Henry starts to bow his bass, the sparks begin to fly with Rashied also providing an organic flow, the two masters ascending together. The wood, strings, hair of the bow, drumheads, sticks and cymbals all work supremely well together. There is constant conversation going on between both musicians with ideas and expressions flowing back & forth. This is magic music and the vibe is just right. There is a certain earthiness on "Oceans of the Clouds" with the soft spectral sounds of spidery violin and distant eerie percussion. Henry's violin is speaking in tongues while Rashied adds a layer simmering sounds underneath. Rashied's drum solo on "Larger Astronomical Time" is dynamic and stunning, the history of jazz percussion and African rhythms swirl together inside. When Henry takes off on "Arcopanorama" the sound of the bass is especially powerful and intense, his bowing is mind-blowing! When the two warriors erupt on "Priordained" it is indeed a powerful experience. The last drum solo on this piece by Rashied is another gem worth savoring. The final poem is also befitting to the overall vibe. It is a great thing to hear both Rashied Ali and Henry Grimes at their best as they are here. Like a blessing from the gods. - Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
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