Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Hasaan Ibn Ali - Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album (Omnivore Recordings, 2021)

Pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali has been one of the biggest mysteries of the jazz world ever since the 1960’s when the great bebop drummer Max Roach got together with him to record the well received LP The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan for Atlantic Records in 1965. Ali had been a stalwart on the deep Philadelphia jazz scene playing with musicians that included John Coltrane and many others with whom he sat in with at local clubs, but fell into obscurity as his health declined. The recordings made for this album were done by Atlantic Records in 1965 as well, with this reissue taken from recently restored acetates long thought lost. Set down on August 23 and September 7, 1965 the sessions took place at Atlantic Studios in New York City with Odean Pope on tenor saxophone; Art Davis on bass and Kalil Madi on drums. The sound isn't pristine, but the remastering is well done considering the circumstances. When Ali was off the scene due to narcotics violations and illness, Atlantic delayed the original project, eventually losing the original tapes in a warehouse fire, leaving on the acetates. The music itself is quite memorable, sometimes having a manic edge to the excitement, but never veering out of control, it sounds like something that might be at the vanguard of mid 1960's jazz along side the likes of Andrew Hill or McCoy Tyner. Ali has a firm percussive touch, driving the piano keys and pushing the music forward, while also maintaining a unique idiosyncratic conception of time along the lines of fellow iconoclasts Herbie Nichols and Thelonious Monk. If the music presented here isn't exactly a historical revelation to rewrite the jazz history books, it is still a very worthy album, shining much deserved light on a very talented musician who by dint of fate wasn't quite able to make the impact he deserved to make. Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album - amazon.com

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