Hasaan Ibn Ali
Omnivore Records

Modernism From 1965 Still Sounds Fresh and Exciting in The 21st Century.

As the name of the website implies; I’ve always been a bit of a Magpie where music is involved; and while I’ve tried several times over the years to sit among the Cool Kids and ‘like’ Jazz; it’s always been hard work.
Bits and pieces have certainly took my fancy; but in general too much I’ve listened to has been high brow for the likes of me, and I tend to go back to what I know.
Then along came Omnivore Records last year with a couple of releases that I became fascinated with and now, there’s this ‘great lost album’ from Hasaan Ibn Ali.
Being totally honest, the name didn’t mean a thing; but I trust the source implicitly and played it one night as I was reading a long form article in GQ Magazine …… and it was the perfect accompaniment.
With that under my belt; I’ve now played METAPHYSICS: THE LOST ATLANTIC ALBUM six times and each time enjoyed it more than the last.
Recorded in August/September 1965 in New York the album was shelved by the label (Atlantic) because Ali was in jail on drugs charges! Different times indeed.
Subsequently the original tapes were lost in a warehouse fire; but a second copy mysteriously turned up a couple of years ago and …. here ’tis.
Not being any form of expert it’s always going to be difficult reviewing an instrumental Jazz album; but opening track Atlantic Ones simply oozes Class, with a capital C. Ali’s piano playing is breath-taking; but first and foremost, Odean Pope’s tenor sax playing simply sizzles in a way I’ve never heard before.
While I wasn’t wrong using this as ‘background music’ that night; but heard on headphones; or my favourite …. late at night in the car (a very early foggy morning was pretty fine too)…… WOW!
The darkly brooding El Hasaan could be from a Hitchcock soundtrack and the 11 minutes plus of True Train have held me totally transfixed twice; as the music smothered me like a warm blanket.
To my untutored ears, this is as close to Classical Music as I’m ever going to get and the interplay between Ali on piano and Pope, Saxophone on Viceroy and the majestic Epitome while Art Davis, bass; and Kalil Madi on drums hold the whole thing together like velvet covered steel, allowing the virtuosos the time and space to make their magic happen.
I may not understand the actual title, but the intricately beautiful ‘Richard May Love Give Powell’ gives the title track Metaphysics a run for its money in the Favourite Track Stakes; but for no real other reason than it is just plain brilliant; with the latter taking the title by a short head.
The three additional tracks are the obligatory ‘alternate takes’ and there’s nothing wrong with them at all; but phew the playing and energy earlier is truly spellbinding; and well worth discovering if you are only vaguely interested in this style of music; as I am.

Released April 23rd 2021


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