Yesterday was a rough day. Every year Jazz Times has a “goodbye” issue where it celebrates the lives of the jazz musicians who have passed in the previous year. It’s always sobering reading, as the number of true greats still with us slowly diminishes. A couple of weeks ago we lost George Russell,little-known outside the music world, but an incredibly influential composer and innovator. And yesterday we lost two more greats. Les Paul, one of the most important innovators on the jazz guitar, died at the ripe old age of 94. And Rashied Ali, best known for his collaborations with John Coltrane towards the end of Trane’s career, passed away at 74. Rest in peace, gents. And thanks for everything.
Here’s a video of Les Paul playing “I Can’t Get Started” a few years ago. He was 91 years old.
And, sparing the faint of heart among you any of his more avant garde moments, here’s a clip of Ali playing with his young quintet recently. I’m not usually a big fan of drum solos but this one ain’t bad.