You are a very lucky man to have had the experience you had with him. Be sure you tell your grandkids.Of all the drummers I've ever known with fame, Mr. Ali was the most important to me, especially on a personal level. I had known him pretty well for the past 5 years and we kept in touch. He was an amazing mentor on many levels, not just about drumming. And I'm not saying this to elevate myself/straight up. He really was important and I will miss the communication and his friendliness.
This is a really bad thing for drumming because he wasn't just doing some retrospective thing when he passed, he was still very current and on top of his business and his playing. Man, even his myspace is still floating around with his recent check in still posted. Then there's his iternnary posted everywhere like he's still going to do the gigs. I hate looking at it. I think he had a heart attack a few days ago, so there wasn't any long term thing that had happened.
As I've shared before, my first CD was with a Coltrane tribute band in Europe. It wasn't released that widely, just pretty much passed around to different people. Supposedly some jazz historian guy heard our Expression cut and asked Mr. Ali about it assuming he would know something, since he's the drummer on the original recording. I guess the historian thought it was like some famous guys who were really drunk or on drugs and not playing up to their usual levels, because most guys don't cover songs like that. Then I guess Mr. Ali couldn't figure it out either.
He then got his representative on it because the whole thing was driving him crazy. Then he found out it was this little kid who had just moved to Michigan from Romania, and I think that got him interested.
So they got my number, and I'm coming home from school and the phone rings and it's Rashied Ali. He was just great to me with the critiques and the encouragement. Then we spent almost an hour talking about Coltrane. It was like a dream, and it came at the perfect time, because I was so bummed then about a lot of things.
As fate would have it, Mr. Ali came to Flint a couple of months later to do a concert with Sonny Fortune. I introduced myself and it was like we had been friends for years. After that we always kept a connection. He had told me to look him up if I decided to live in New York and I really did believe him. He was a very straight up guy.
Some of you might be surprised to know that he had lurked on this forum in the past. He thought forums were confusing because he didn't understand how invisible people from all walks of life could come inside a computer and discuss music, and he once mocked me /in a cutting but friendly way/ for my participation. He definitely had many opinions about music, players etc.
Mr. Ali never came off to me like the kind of guy you see in heaven doing drum solos with some all star angel band. With him it just seems more like he's in another kind of place that's just different than here. But you still see him playing his gigs like before and not putting up with a whole lot of crap, while pushing his art forward.
No tears/ just respect. I think that's what he probably expects and is something he definitely deserves.