The Max Roach Trio Featuring The Legendary Hasaan
Hasaan Ibn Ali (piano)
Art Davis (bass)
Max Roach (drums) [click here to see more vinyl featuring Max Roach]
Written by Hasaan Ibn Ali
1 LP, standard sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Atlantic
Recording: December 1964 in New York by Tom Dowd
Production: Arif Mardin
Originally released in 1965
Reissued in 2019
Side A :
- Three-Four Vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways
- Off My Back Jack
- Hope So Elmo
- Almost Like Me
Side B :
- Din-Ka Street
- Pay Not Play Not
- To Inscribe
« Pianist Hasaan Ibn Ali only made one recording in his life, this trio set with drummer Max Roach and bassist Art Davis. A very advanced player whose style fell somewhere between Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor (with hints of Herbie Nichols), Hasaan actually had a rather original sound. His performances on his seven originals here are intense, somewhat virtuosic and rhythmic, yet often melodic in a quirky way. This is a classic of its kind, and it's a tragedy that Hasaan would not record again and would soon sink back into obscurity. » AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow
« From time to time in jazz history, individual performers appear, and like shooting stars, flame out with little or no trace of their time in the jazz world. Hasaan Ibn Ali ( who will simply be referred to as Hasaan in this review) is clearly one of them.
Although stories have surfaced about Hasaan’s time and influence on the Philadelphia jazz scene and some of its notable names ( John Coltrane/Odean Pope/Benny Golson), his only tangible output is this terrific audiophile reissue on 180 gram vinyl LP by Speakers Corner of the 1964 Atlantic Records album The Max Roach Trio featuring the legendary Hasaan.
These seven tracks contain some forty plus minutes of Hasaan compositions, and represents everything he consigned to printed music. However, some sources suggest that the Library of Congress in Washington DC, houses a Hasaan solo piano recording from 1964, the exact contents of which are not known.
As for Hasaan’s pianistic style, it can be percussive, cluttered, and filled with dissonant chords reminiscent of Thelonious Monk, or Cecil Taylor or Herbie Nichols. Although Hasaan himself attaches his style closer to that of Elmo Hope, which in Alan Sukoenig fine liner notes on this album, quotes Hasaan referring to Hope as “his artship”.
Hence Hasaan’s dedicated composition “Hope So Elmo” which is a ballad full of resonant chords and is supported by bassist Art Davis in full arco mode interspersed with some plucking all in a very dark tone. Roach lays out on this track.
Another defining feature of Hasaan’s playing is his fingering which is blindingly fast and complex. The composition “Almost Like Me” is filled with such demonstrations especially in his exchange of fours with Roach.
Side Two has three tracks; “Din-K A Street”, “Pay Not Play Not” and “To Inscribe”. Throughout these tracks one can hear a pianist who is on a completely different plane than most other players as he lays down chord structures that don’t fall within established norms. So if the listener is willing to make a commitment to the music, there is a reward as Hasaan has developed a unique harmonic sense, and his opaque expressions will deliver chills.
A pianist’s life work in a singular recorded document. » Pierre Giroux, Audiophile Audition, Jul 1, 2019
Hardly any other musician has released so little as Hasaan Ibn Ali, born William Henry Langford Jr., in 1931, who died in 1980. Just seven titles in all are his complete output, all of which he composed himself, all of them on the present Atlantic LP, and all recorded in December 1964. The saxophonist Odean Pope, who often practised with him, talks of a second recording session in 1965 for Atlantic, but the recordings were never released because Hasaan was sent to jail shortly afterwards; rumour has it that the tapes were destroyed in a fire – and it might well be that recordings with John Coltrane still exist somewhere or other.
Until then, one should enjoy the Max Roach Trio with Art Davis on the bass to the full. We have here a recording that will astound and fascinate your ears with its originality. A first impression conjures up reminiscences of Cecil Taylor and Herbie Nichols, while Hasaan himself talks of the pianist Elmo Hope as the man who brought him closer to the 'mystery of music'. When asked how the recording session with maestro Max Roach went, Hasaan said: "They scared me to death".
According to Odean Pope, Hasaan was not an easy person to get on with, and he was convinced of his talent to the point of arrogance. But despite this – or perhaps because of this – one listens spellbound to the 40 minutes on this LP, a legacy and never-fulfilled promise of an extremely talented man. We are indebted to Max Roach, who persuaded the bosses of Atlantic Records to make these recordings. For many, many years they had vanished from the record market, but fortunately they are now available as an audiophile re-release to be listened to and admired.
AllMusic : 4.5 / 5, Discogs : Rate Your Music : 3,78 / 5