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Rashied Ali (1935-2009) par Gunter Hampel


Rashied Ali grapped my arm and knocked his head over to follow him. I was sitting at Greene Street in his studio-loft-basement with Jeanne Lee, and were checking tracks on which Jeanne and two other singers had performed with Rashied. Sounded great.

Rashied led me upstairs : “I want you to check something“ and… I was to sit in a rehearsal room, an empty room, and some sort of stage, but the curtain was closed. He was like a little boy, wanting to show me his toys. I was supposed to guess. He had gotten one of those new electronic drums and he had tuned it and was pretty shure, I wouldn‘t guess if he was playing his regular drum set or if it was the electronic one. So I was in this room in new york, in Soho and had Rashied playing a special drumsolo, actually two drumsoli playing for my ears, only (and unfortunately, I didn‘t have any device on me, like a recorder or a carry with me small enough video recorder. I guess this was before 1985, now – 2009 – on the day when I got an e-mail from John from New York, I am sitting in Berlin, Germany, where I write this, saying that Rashied passed away today). Because the one hour I spent with Rashied were one of these moments which make my “gunter life” rich , with   special communications between other artist who obviously love my way of playing, because they open up to my like you open up to a friend, here the word brother would probably more meeting the occasion… But what Rashied played in his first solo for me — remember, we do not see each other, he was behind the curtain to let me guess which drumset he was playing – was the mightiest drumsolo I had heard of him, and believe me, I LOVE Coltrane’s duo recording, where Rashied and Trane were together ; his voice pulled me out of the visions in my head and ears :  “Gunter ? You are still here ? Now I play the other drumset”.

From the moment he started “the other“ drumset, I heard it was the electronic drumset, but there was no room to even keep any notice about it, it was RASHIED who played that drumset and I concentrated on WHAT he played, and that wasn‘t any less, from what came out of his acoustic drumset. All I wanted was SEE him play, so I pulled the curtain away, and luckily he continued playing, because we understood each other, with our feelings. Then, he got up and gave me his sticks : “Let‘s have a drum battle“, went over to the accoustic… And here we went. Playing for an hour or so, we took off, I wasn‘t the only one who had fun,  it was one of those BRIGHT MOMENTS.

To play with him, was so easy, We didn`t battle, we played with each other, we had calls and answers, rhythm and free playing, painted sounds, percussion waves on cymbals, one played a rhythm, the other soloed over it,  in other words, being musicians we had our talk. Transcontinental and transcultural exchange. No competition. A celebration. Having fun with each other with what we can do best : create sounds. When Jeanne joined the two of us we had become friends and wanted to play together and start with a duo, with the vibes an bassclarinet and flute, and then with Jeanne and… Musicians life-moving and thinking we can do all at the same time, too busy, now we cannot document our spirits, Rashied, but you‘ll live on in the cathedral of my heart, i‘ll burn a candle there for you.
Gunter Hampel © My Gunter Life / Le son du grisli

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