Rashied Ali - Interstellar Overdrive

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As John Coltrane moved to the last phase of his career embracing the adventurous spirit of the New York avant garde, drummer Rashied Ali was there at the heart of his new thinking with his “multi-directional” drumming and non standard approach that altered the course of Coltrane’s music as it reached its great peak on the album Interstellar Space. Since Coltrane’s death Rashied Ali’s career has, like the course of the avant garde itself, seen its peaks and troughs alternating with periods of obscurity and glimpses of revived interest in this unique musician’s approach. Ahead of a run of dates in London this month, Rashied talks to Kevin Le Gendre Rashied Ali - Interstellar Overdrive
In the wake of 9/11 the African-American poet Sharrif Simmons found that waspish paranoia over anything remotely related to Islam affected his working life. Promoters in the States were reluctant to book a performer with a first name bearing no evident Christian connotations. Ironically Sharrif translates from Arabic as ‘Honest.’

Some might say that the name Rashied Ali is even more liable to arouse suspicion. Not only is this a Muslim appellation, it is also distinctly close to that of Muhammad Ali, the civil rights and sports icon who was once a sword-sized thorn in the flesh of the American establishment. “You know I’ve had this name my whole life,” says Ali, the 72-year-old drummer who started playing professionally in the 60s and who perchance also has a brother called Muhammad. “Since 9/11 it’s been kind of weird in airports. They double check me and stuff like that but after they find out that I was born in America, my father and grandfather too and I’m a black American, I don’t get hassled as much.

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