Larry Fink / Courtesy of Omnivor Recordings
For decades, most of what jazz scholars know about the late Philadelphia-based pianist and composer Hassan Bin Ali came from a single album in 1965 – Max Roach introduces the legendary good.
This recording didn’t exactly establish the outstanding musical as part of the new jazz avant-garde, but it did attract enough attention to get Atlantic Records to try to follow – and that second recording, made in the late summer of 1965, was the most important thing. It’s been rumored since then. Long thought to be lost, this album is titled MetaphysicsIt was discovered in 2017 and finally released.
When Hassan Bin Ali first appeared in Atlantic Records, he was 33 years old and lived with his parents in Philadelphia. He rarely performed in public, more than as a “ghost” legend, but in the community of musicians on the East Coast there was a steady murmur of grape talk about a socially awkward pianist from Philly who could create a person along the lines of Thelonious Monk accurate, and ran Quickly up and down the keyboard like Art Tatum the next day.
In Philadelphia, Ali became famous for attending playing sessions, sitting on the piano bench next to whoever was playing, and gradually assuming responsibility. Young musicians also respected and feared him: saxophone legend Archie Sheep, who had learned to play in those sessions, remembers Ali as a “majestic character,” saying that when the pianist began playing, he and other younger musicians would flee the band to hear his intense music And wondering.
Only one trumpeter can keep up with Ali – saxophonist Odin Pope, who made his debut on the recording. Metaphysics At age 26. Bob played and taught with Ali for years; He remembers visiting the house of a pianist with his friend John Coltrane, and he absorbed ideas about jazz harmonies that were galaxies far from the typical bib. The Metaphysics “Atlantic Ones” shows this connection: it not only bears some resemblance to the harmonic movement of Cultran’s famous “Giant Steps”, but also shows Ali and Bob participating in a rapidly evolving animated musical conversation.
For the second album, Ali wrote quartet material featuring Pop, and convinced Atlantic he needed many pre-session rehearsals – an unusual request at a time when so many jazz recordings were recorded in one day, without any preparation. Despite the incompletely tuned piano, the recording sessions were successful.
Weeks later, however, Ali was arrested for drug possession. That prompted brand executives to put off the project, which drove Ali into decline: within a few years, he stopped playing in public, and died in a convalescence home in 1981. By then, Metaphysics The major tapes are lost in a vault fire, along with the legendary recordings of Aretha Franklin, Ornett Coleman, and other artists from the Atlantic. Various efforts by jazz historians to locate any recordings of Basem Ali were fruitless – until 2017, when the “safe” monophonic backup contained most of the music Metaphysics is found.
release Metaphysics Almost doubles the production of the well-known Hassan bin Ali. It won’t rearrange anyone’s cosmology, but it does provide insight into his music that confirms the memories of the many who heard and played with him. Fascinating and sometimes dirty, it is full of musical provocations in the form of diabolical singles leaps and curvy and asymmetric synthetic ideas that he would likely develop into future projects. Ali might have been hailed / referred to as “mythical” in his first recording, but as this discovery appears in the vault, he was just getting started.