Jan 11, 2015
2015 has just begun, and I’ve already got a new CD on heavy rotation. That rapid-fire thumping you hear from my office – that’s Ali Bey.
A product of the fertile Detroit Jazz scene, Ali has been playing electric bass since the age of eleven. Ali’s musical development was strongly influenced by both parents - his father’s love of Jazz, Blues, and R&B and his mother’s encouragement for him to study gospel music. Time with mentors like Harold McKinney, a Grammy nominated composer and arranger; trumpeter Marcus Belgrave; and Jazz Master and acclaimed Saxophonist Donald Walden paved the way for Bey to become an in-demand funk, fusion and straight-ahead jazz bassist. Both as a sideman and with the Ali Bey Quartet (Timothy Stroud (drums), Larry Andrews (lead guitarist), Raphael Statin (saxophonist) and Bey (bass guitarist)), he has become a fixture in the Motor City.
My Finest Hour, his CD that has caught my attention, is a wonderful mix of old-school fusion bass and straight ahead playing. Right from the get-go, “’Dam’ I Got a Toothache” sets the tone – lightning fills over shifting a time signature and a driving beat that wouldn’t be out of place on mid-70’s Return to Forever. Bey uses Stroud and Andews as his core collaborators, but wisely fills out the sound with not only Statin but Ladarrel Johnson on sax (especially on his rave-up “Ace in the Hole”) , and Raymond Davis Jr.’s keyboard on “Sanktum Sanktorium.”
This is not just an album for fusion fanatics, though. Check out the soulfulness of “Ace in the Hole” or the chill of “Joe Cool” and you’ll know that Ali Bey has more than a few good tricks in those four strings.