Every hepcat knows that drummer Rashied Ali is a free jazz polyrhythmic dynamo, right? That Interstellar Space, the album of duets by John Coltrane and R. Ali is one of the best free/avant jazz albums EVER?!? That goes without saying. But not a lot of folk are hip to the fact that Ali can play "inside" too - well, not as inside/straightahead as, say, Kenny Clarke or Mel Lewis, but in the 70s Ali led a small group that deserved a wider audience, including them that are usually allergic to free jazz. In the mid 70s, Ali had his own label, Survival Records, which, as you can imagine, didn’t exactly cause the Majors to lose any sleep. Simply put, for indies back then, distribution sucked.
But, rejoice: the folks at Knitting Factory Records have reissued the Survival catalog in the popular CD format. The disc at hand is Moon Flight, a sterling example of in/out jazz of that era, and it’s solid enough to transcend its time. This music is driving and passionate - imagine if an edition of Art Blakey’s Messengers circa 1962-67 wanted to get wild, as in, destination: OUT, baby - while forgoing self-indulgence and socio-political twaddle. Saxophonists James Vass and Marvin Blackman have big, vigorously surging sounds and don’t think "restraint" is a dirty word. Pianist Charles Eubanks is righteously lyrical in that McCoy Tyner/Stanley Cowell way, and Ali is, as usual, a natural force, keeping time, and bending it, breaking it, reassembling time, over, under, sideways, down. Get it before it disappears again.