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When it comes to free jazz, my understanding may not even hit the equivalent pre-school level. But there are times when it hits me, as when some years ago a friend popped on a Rashied Ali record. Ali, who played separately with both John and Alice Coltrane, along with a number of his own groups, died last Wednesday. He was 76.

From the NY Times obituary:

“I didn’t know what it was, but he called it multidirectional rhythms,” Mr. Ali said of his drumming in an interview for the documentary “The World According to John Coltrane” (1990). On Mr. Ali’s Web site, rashiedali.org, Rashid Ali's Web site his playing is described as “a multirhythmic, polytonal propellant, helping fuel Coltrane’s flights of free-jazz fancy....

“He could play straight, put down the time and swing,” the critic Stanley Crouch said. “He had a good command of his instrument. He once told me that he thought of himself as playing in 4/4, but the other realms of 4/4 that we don’t usually hear.”

A sampling:

"Leo" w/ John Coltrane, live in 1966:

"Blood On The Cross" Rashied Ali:

“Journey in Satchidananda” w/ Alice Coltrane: