Basic Background Info

Birth: July 1, 1935
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Band: John Coltrane
Genres: Jazz
Instruments: Drums
Occupation: Musician


Rashied Ali is best known for his performances with John Coltrane in the 1960s. Together, they broke boundaries and embraced a free jazz style. Initially Rashied Ali and Elvin Jones both played with Coltrane, but eventually Rashied alone supported the jazz legend.

Born Robert Patterson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 1, 1935, Rashied Ali entire family was musical. His mother and aunts played piano and sang at his grandmother's church; his father was a jazz enthusiast; and Rashied Ali's cousins, Charlie and Bernard Rice, both drummed professionally. Rashied started playing the piano, but only stuck with it long enough to learn to read music. Then he moved onto the trombone, before becoming interested in the trumpet. Finally, Rashied Ali settled on the congas and other hand percussion instruments, thanks ultimately to his cousins' influence.

Rashied Ali met John Coltrane in the late 1950s in Philadelphia while Rashied considered himself just a drumming student. At the time, Coltrane was still playing with Miles Davis. Rashied Ali admired Coltrane's work so much that he would simply sit on the front porch of Coltrane's house (he lived just four or five blocks from Rashied) and listen to him practice. Building up his skill and confidence, Rashied Ali eventually asked Coltrane if he could sit in with him. Coltrane declined and suggested that Rashied go to New York and get some experience under his belt first. Rashied Ali took that advice. In 1965, Coltrane asked the more seasoned Rashied to join him.

Rashied Ali and Elvin Jones both played drums behind Coltrane. Rashied valued that experience: "Elvin was one of my heroes. He was one the guys that really got me started to play something different. By listening to Elvin Jones, I was able to find Rashied Ali." Before long, Elvin left, and Rashied found himself backing Coltrane all by himself.

Rashied Ali played with Coltrane's quartet, and the two of them recorded several duets together. Oddly, the two never performed a live duet. After Coltrane passed away in 1967, Rashied started performing in Europe and studied in England under Philly Joe Jones.

Rashied Ali's return to New York City found him working and recording with Jackie McLean, Alice Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Gary Bartz, and Dewey Redman, to name a few. Attempting to halt the decline of jazz in the 1970s, Rashied opened a jazz club, Ali's Alley, and a record label. The Alley became an outlet for various jazz styles, but it eventually closed in 1979.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Rashied Ali's work was often reminiscent of his time with Coltrane, either as a tribute or a re-creation. Rashied occasionally performed with Makanda Ken MacIntyre on the saxophone. Rashied Ali also recoded with Zusaan Kali Fasteau in the early 1980s. In 1987 Rashied formed Phalanx with James "Blood" Ulmer, George Adams, and Sirone. Rashied (drums), William Parker (bass), and Charles Gayle (saxophone) recorded Touchin' on Trane in 1991, which received critical acclaim. Rashied later created Prima Materia, an ensemble band committed to re-interpreting Coltrane's work.


Album Year Album Name Album Band
1962 Retrospective: Impulse John Coltrane
1962 Spiritual [Impulse] John Coltrane
1965 Infinity John Coltrane
1965 Marion Brown Quartet Marion Brown
1965 Meditations John Coltrane
1965 On This Night Archie Shepp
1966 Concert in Japan John Coltrane
1966 Cosmic Music John Coltrane/Alice Coltrane
1966 Live at the Village Vanguard Again! John Coltrane
1966 Live in Japan John Coltrane
1966 Why Not? Marion Brown
1967 'Bout Soul Jackie McLean
1967 Expression John Coltrane
1967 Interstellar Space John Coltrane
1967 Jupiter Variation John Coltrane
1967 Olatunji Concert: The Last Live Recording John Coltrane
1967 Stellar Regions John Coltrane
1968 Monastic Trio Alice Coltrane
1968 Orgasm Alan Shorter
1968 Reflection on Creation and Space Alice Coltrane
1969 Huntington Ashram Monastery Alice Coltrane
1970 Journey in Satchidananda Alice Coltrane
1971 His Greatest Years: The Best of John Coltrane John Coltrane
1971 Universal Consciousness Alice Coltrane
1973 Duo Exchange Rashied Ali
1973 New Directions in Modern Music Rashied Ali
1973 Rashied Ali Quintet Rashied Ali
1984 It Couldn't Happen without You Saheb Sarbib
1987 Original Phalanx Phalanx
1988 In Touch Phalanx
1989 Go Groove Michael Bocian
1989 Worlds Beyond Words Zusaan Kali Fasteau
1990 His Greatest Years, Vol. 2: The Best of John Coltrane John Coltrane
1991 Mask of Light Rudolph Grey
1991 Touchin' on Trane Charles Gayle/William Parker/Rashied Ali
1993 Body and Soul David Murray
1994 Island Universe Jeff Palmer
1994 October Revolution Various Artists
1994 Peace on Earth: The Music Of John Coltrane Prima Materia
1994 Songlines Peter Brˆtzmann/Fred Hopkins/Rashied Ali
1995 Meditations Prima Materia
1996 Bells Prima Materia With Rashied Ali
1996 Everything Henry Rollins
1997 Blue Break Beats, Vol. 3 Various Artists
1997 Music Speaks Louder Than Words James Ulmer
1997 New York Downtown: Jazz And Other Sounds Various Artists
1998 Priceless Jazz Sampler, Vol. 3 Various Artists
1998 Priceless Jazz Alice Coltrane
1999 Ballad Trane John Coltrane
1999 Blue Break Beats, Vol. 1-4 Various Artists
1999 Blues Is My Wailin' Wall Mighty Mo Rodgers
1999 Decided.. Already The Motionless Heart of Tranquility Purple Trap
1999 Future Jazz Howard Mandel
1999 Music of Alice Coltrane: Astral Meditations Alice Coltrane
1999 Rings of Saturn Rashied Ali & Louie Belogenis
1999 Spiritual Trane John Coltrane
1999 Transcendence: Impulse in the Spiritual Groove Various Artists
2000 In the Spirit of John Coltrane Sonny Fortune
2000 Ken Burns Jazz John Coltrane
2000 Swift Are the Winds of Life Rashied Ali & Leroy Jenkins Duo
2002 Legacy (Impulse!) John Coltrane
2002 Quartet Marion Brown
2003 Divine Radiance Tisziji Munoz
2003 Hey Look at You Joe Lee Wilson
2003 Mosaic Select: Grachan Moncur III Grachan Moncur III
2003 Very Best of John Coltrane (Universal International) John Coltrane
2004 Holy Ghost: Rare & Unissued Recordings (1962-70) Albert Ayler
2004 New Thing! Various Artists
2004 Remember Trane and Bird The Dynamic Duo
2006 House That Trane Built: Best of Impulse Records Various Artists
2006 House That Trane Built: Story of Impulse Records (Box Set) Various Artists
2006 Impulse Story Alice Coltrane


  • John Coltrane on Rashied Ali: "He allows the soloist maximum freedom, he's laying down multi-directional rhythms all the time. To me, he's definitely one of the great drummers."
  • Rashied changed his name when his father, also Robert Patterson, changed his to Rashied Ali.

Instruments of Choice



Drums: Yamaha
Cymbals: Zildjian
Sticks: Vic Firth

Pics & Clips