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Rashied Ali: Judgement Day, Vol. 1 & 2

For the past 20 years Rashied Ali has been operating like an Art Blakey figure in terms of discovering and nurturing new talent. His current working quintet is another cross-generational affair featuring veterans Greg Murphy (piano) and Joris Teepe (bass) and two new firebrands in Lawrence Clark on tenor sax and Jumaane Smith on trumpet. Together this tightly knit group swings in fairly conventional postbop fashion on rarely covered tunes like Frank Lowe’s “Sidewalks in Motion,” Jaco Pastorius’ uptempo blazer “Dania,” Wayne Shorter’s “The Big Push” and James Blood Ulmer’s “M.O.”

Teepe, a powerful, deep-toned bassist in the Paul Chambers tradition, contributes the moving ballad “You’re Reading My Mind,” while saxophonist Clark, who blows heroically throughout these two discs, offers the exhilarating title track, a modal workout with distinctly Middle Eastern touches that has pianist Murphy dipping deeply into his McCoy Tyner bag. Other highlights in these two energized sets include Murphy’s burning “Skane’s Refrain” and Smith’s frantically swinging “Yesterday (J-Man) Tomorrow,” along with dynamic readings of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” and Don Cherry’s “Multi-Culti.” Though this band rarely plays outside of New York City, this is one of the more potent working quintets in jazz today.

Originally Published