Spirits Aloft is a tribute to Rashied Ali who passed away in October 2009. Prior to his passing he worked with Henry Grimes on numerous projects. The two reconnected after many years on different paths and as time has a tendency to do, allowed them the opportunity to play and record together as if time had stood its ground. Spirits Aloft is their second duo recording, Going To The Ritual (Porter Records 2007) being the first.
Recorded in concert by Stefan Arnarson in 2009 at Gordon Theater, Camden New Jersey and Center For The Arts, Rutgers University. All of the music is co-composed by Grimes and Ali. The poems are by Grimes and are from his book "Signs Along The Road".
Freedom reigns supreme on Spirits Aloft a duo recording of drums and bass that is much deeper than that. When you think of drums and bass you generally think of instruments holding the foundation of a composition together. Solid beats and structured rhythms that begin together and flow through a marching time to end on a solid down beat however Grimes and Ali have molded a work of sound art, woven with colour, depth and passion.
"Rapid Transit" a tune that features Grimes playing violin is big city mad, the rushing driven slur of his violin col arco as Ali pushes the pulse of a train, time that can't be late. Rashied Ali; such a musical drummer who seemingly knew no boundaries, power, finesse, speed, dynamics and brilliance. The song runs on for just over fourteen minutes giving both musicians ample room for experimentation and improvisation. Grimes switches back to bass and mixes between arco and pizzicato style. The end of the ride finds both players at peace - slowly and methodically concluding a wild ride.
At times during Spirits Aloft the music is obscure and experimentation on sound is prevalent, such is the manner of playing on "Oceans Of Clouds" where Grimes manipulates his strings and produces billowing sounds that emulates the rolling of clouds. Alternatively, for Ali the soloing on "Larger Astronomical Time" a romp around the drum kit, starting with splashing high hat cymbals, progressing through a rolling thunder of drum sounds and culminating with a crash.
The bass playing of Grimes hits its stride on "Arcopanorama" intense playing that combines arco and pizzicato. Tone and sustain, rhythm and melody, blending and bending sound as a true wizard with a depth that is profound.
opens with a poem "Moments" and concludes with a poem "The Arch Stairwells" the final stanza follows: "All of we are going home, to find a peace of solitude." Rest in peace, drum master Rashied Ali.