The Dynamic Duo Rashied Ali & Arthur Rhames - "Remember Trane and Bird", Ayler Records

Given Arthur Rhames' obscurity, it's a gift from above to see the release of the duo CD "Remember Trane and Bird" that he shares with percussionist Rashied Ali. Tenor saxophonist and pianist, Rhames will forever be etched in people's minds as the legend whose records were nearly non-existent, impossible to find and notoriously out-of-print. Fact is, other than a DIW title from a number of years ago, this is the first widely available record that showcases this man's talents. What is all the fuss about, you ask? If you recall Coltrane's "Interstellar Space", where Rashied Ali played percussion, and put Rhames in Coltrane's shoes, you'll start to get some of the excitement of this duo. They burn! No, burning is not the issue here. It's the intensity that these two produced that August night in 1981 in Willisau [where this live recording was penned] that lights up the night. The fiery heart of Ali's percussion its' intensity and burning heart is ever present. All along, Rhames plays the tenor with burning passion his blowing circle his partner in melodic and angular patterns. He lifts his voice up whenever he sees the need and plays it cool when that's appropriate. Most of the material comes straight out of Coltrane's songbook "Mr. P.C.", "Giant Steps", "Impressions" while only a brief 10 minute track serves as an "Homage to Charlie Parker" [this is actually a medley]. The deeper we dig into this 2 CD set, the more we discover Rhames as an extraordinary pianist as well. He touches on the melodic side, without being melancholy or overtly sweet. The surprise of the record is Ali's singing, as he belches out vocals on a few tracks, almost in a cajoling fashion, challenging his team mate to play faster, louder and harder. Based on the fact that this is a rare recording, to actually hear The Dynamic Duo is bordering on miraculous. Then again, since Rhames timeline was cut short [he was only 32, when he passed away back in 1989] we're all blessed that Ayler Records got a hold of these tapes and released them for the world to rejoice.

Tom Sekowski

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