Hasaan Ibn Ali labored in an ensemble led by Max Roach and was credited as “the Legendary Hasaan” on one of many groundbreaking drummer’s mid-60s releases. But the pianist didn’t launch an album as a bandleader throughout his lifetime — and in reality, solely ever appeared on that one studio album — making him extra of a jazz-world footnote than a family title.
Now his legacy may endure a reassessment. Ibn Ali did helm an ensemble within the studio in 1965, and the ensuing album, lengthy presumed destroyed in a hearth, shall be launched on Friday as “Metaphysics: The Lost Atlantic Album.”
The saxophonist Odean Pope, who performed on the report, stated Ibn Ali’s skills have lengthy been neglected.
“He can play the most complex piece, like a ‘Cherokee,’ or the most beautiful composition like, ‘Embraceable You,’ and play those tunes extremely good,” Pope stated of his mentor, who died in 1981. “Sometimes, he would play a ballad and tears would be coming down my cheeks.”
Ibn Ali, who was born William Henry Lankford Jr. in 1931, advanced from a tradition-minded performer within the late ’40s after assimilating the bop developments of the pianist Elmo Hope, who together with Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk is credited with serving to reimagine the keyboard. And by living-room periods at his North Philadelphia dwelling, in addition to at sporadic membership gigs, Ibn Ali helped information performers amid early, exploratory intervals of their careers, just like the saxophonist John Coltrane and the bassist Reggie Workman.
An everyday on the wealthy Philadelphia jazz scene, Ibn Ali was recognized for his adventurous taking part in as a lot as his sometimes-difficult demeanor. While Pope recalled the pianist as an empathetic and considerate instructor, Ibn Ali was stated to have booted lesser gamers off the bandstand mid-performance. He additionally was famend for a specific vogue idiosyncrasy: If he needed to put on a tie at some gigs, it will hold solely about midway down his torso.
Ibn Ali lower “Metaphysics” the identical 12 months Roach launched “The Max Roach Trio Featuring the Legendary Hasaan,” which featured seven compositions by the pianist. Atlantic, which launched the Roach album, was impressed sufficient to sponsor a quartet session for Ibn Ali.
For the periods, the pianist enlisted Pope, the bassist Art Davis and the drummer Kalil Madi, and the ensemble holed up in a New York lodge, working to know the bandleader’s new compositions. Sessions for the album began Aug. 23 and concluded on Sept. 7. But in keeping with Alan Sukoenig’s liner notes for “Metaphysics,” following Ibn Ali’s incarceration on drug fees, Atlantic executives shelved the album, believing they wouldn’t be capable to depend on the pianist to advertise his work.
Master tapes from the periods have been thought destroyed in a 1978 fireplace at an Atlantic warehouse in New Jersey. But a beforehand made recording from the reference acetates survived and was positioned within the Warner Tape Library late in 2017 by connections of the archival launch’s affiliate producer, the jazz pianist and retired educator Lewis Porter.
Until this level, Ibn Ali has been seen as an idiomatic performer and composer, although maybe not a consequential or definitive determine of the style. But artists as various because the pianist Brian Marsella and the vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz have lined his compositions, and the avant-garde pianist Matthew Shipp included him amongst a cohort of individualistic performers in a not too long ago printed essay titled “Black Mystery School Pianists.”
“It’s an attitude, a code, a stance, a way of holding yourself against the jazz tradition,” Shipp stated in an interview, explaining the qualities that outlined such gamers.
During the 1950s and ’60s, Ibn Ali was stretching for one thing new, Shipp stated, including that he was a precursor to concepts and sounds that at this time could be related to the avant-garde.
The launch of “Metaphysics” serves to fill in an unknown little bit of historical past. It additionally ramps up the whole variety of accessible tunes recorded by Ibn Ali from seven to 14; three cuts on the upcoming disc have been captured in alternate takes and tacked on to the top of the album.
The ballad “Richard May Love Give Powell” is a tribute to the bop pianist Bud Powell that options Pope taking part in pretty conventionally. But on items like “Atlantic Ones,” “Viceroy” (Ibn Ali’s cigarette of selection) and “Epitome,” the band pushes itself into extra experimental territory, toying with melodic, harmonic and rhythmic concepts that coincided with the ascendance of the experimental wing of the style.
“After I had an opportunity to essentially begin absorbing it, I used to be like, ‘OK, I hear it. I hear him searching and finding his voice,” said J. Michael Harrison, an educator and host of “The Bridge,” a long-running jazz program on Philadelphia’s WRTI, in regards to the 26-year-old Pope’s taking part in on “Metaphysics.” “He had a lot of territory to travel through. But what I know today as Odean, I heard it start to seep through.”
Following his experiences with the “Metaphysics” periods, Ibn Ali remained in Philadelphia and largely eschewed public performances. After a 1972 fireplace destroyed his dad and mom’ Philadelphia home, the place he spent his grownup life, the pianist lived out his remaining years at a convalescent dwelling. Pope, who helped organize his funeral, stated poetry had supplanted the piano as Ibn Ali’s principal mode of expression there.
Even if the pianist’s fantasy rests on only a handful of printed songs and reminiscences of different performances and impromptu periods from the early ’60s, his whispered inventive largess continues to pervade Philadelphia’s jazz scene.
“Hasaan was like the whole town’s university. He’d explored and done so many things,” Pope stated. “There should be a plaque, like at [Coltrane’s] house. I think he should be remembered as one of the great forerunners of our times.”