In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali

RECOMMENDATION – JORIS TEEPE

Bassist Joris Teepe has been living and working simultaneously in New York and Amsterdam since the 90s. As the only Dutch jazz musician of his generation, Teepe has enjoyed a fruitful career on the American scene. He has performed and recorded with, among others, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Charles McPherson, Harold Mabern, Billy Hart, Eric Alexander, Tom Harrell, Peter Bernstein, Mulgrew Miller and Randy Brecker. More and more, Teepe leaned to avant-garde jazz, particularly under the influence of drummer Rashied Ali. Rashied Ali was one of the big free jazz drummers. He is perhaps best known for his cooperation with John Coltrane on Interstellar Space. Teepe was part of Ali’s group from 2001 till 2009, when Ali passed away. His robust yet silken tone and fluid style keeps Teepe in high demand.

Now the bassist and composer has released the booklet and album In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali, a dedication to his mentor that also features saxophone players Wayne Escoffery, Johannes Enders and Michael Moore, guitarist Freddie Bryant and drummer John Betsch. The thoroughly instructive and well-designed booklet is written by John Weijers.

(Clockwise from left to right: Joris Teepe – In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali; Benny Golson & Joris Teepe; Rashied Ali & John Coltrane)

Teepe says: “You could say for me there is the period before Rashied and the period after Rashied.”

One rather cruel anecdote from Patricia Ali during her interview with Teepe and drummer George Schuller about the period during which Ali ran a club in New York City speaks volumes about the maverick spirit of the late avant-garde drummer (and Patricia!), who refused to be dictated by the whims of corporate labels:

“Rashied was into doing his own thing. He had his own recording company called Survival Records. He had his own publishing company, Ali Music. And then he wanted a club because there was no place for this type of music to be played at the time. You know, the Village Vanguard wasn’t really presenting that. So there was a lot of jazz, but no place for the Avant Garde. Rashied actually got a liquor license and so there was food and liquor. His partner Benny Wilson was wonderful. He did double-duty as Rashied’s bassist and part-time cook in the club.”
George: “And the club was exactly where the studio was?”
Patricia: “No…the club was on the first floor. There was the front door and then there was a ticket window, and that’s where the recording booth was. And then you went through another door, you couldn’t actually get into the club until you paid.”
George: “So the storefront, with the fashion boutique, is where the club was?”
Patricia: “Yes…that whole space. And in the back was the kitchen and also an area for musicians to hang out.”
George: “What came first, the club or the studio?”
Patricia: “The club, the studio wasn’t built until the 1980’s.”
Joris: “First, he was renting, right?”
Patricia: “Well, he rented both floors.”
Joris: “And then he wanted to buy the place, he got tired of the Mafia coming around…”
Patricia: “See, the Mafia kept track of local businesses by cigarette machines and by garbage collection.”
This was the common practice of a kind of neighborhood extortion by the Ma a in New York City at the time.
“So Rashied refused to have a cigarette machine in the place, and then he would take his own garbage to wherever you take garbage. And they did not like that. They broke his jaw at one point and they rammed his fingers, but luckily, he could still play. Then one day he sent me over there with one of the kids. I wanted them to see that we were a family. We had to pay $50 to someone over there. I went down there, looking very pathetic of course, because $50 was a lot for us at that time. So, we bought an ad in the local ‘neighborhood’ newspaper. And that seemed to settle the problems with the Mafia for us, because they could tell there wasn’t a huge amount of business going on here. They wanted their payment based on things like garbage and cigarette machines.”

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali is released by Jazz Tribes. It is available on Amazon.

Check out the website of Joris Teepe here.