I met Raqib Hassan shortly after moving to Boston to attend Berklee in 1989. I played with him in a number of settings throughout the 90s. He was a brilliant saxophonist and bass clarinetist who also played mussette and gyaling, small open hole double reed instruments like high pitched ethnic oboes. He had studied with Archie Shepp and played with Sun Ra on a few occasions. I don't know his whole history, but he was an elder statesmen when we met and I had immense respect for him. While he did play on my large composition Expansions and several times with Leap of Faith, most of the playing I did with him was with his large group Ensemble Mogra or with several of his smaller bands. His approach was free jazz, not pure improvisation like Leap of Faith is typically. We played his compositions and some of Sun Ra, Coltrane and jazz standards like Beyond the Blue Horizon. Ensemble Mogra always included a large percussion section - sometimes with as many as three drummers and African percussion at the same time. I did 4 or 5 performances with Ensemble Mogra at the Western Front in Cambridge MA including two tributes to Sun Ra and one to John Coltrane.
Raqib was never in good health during the entire time I knew him and was partially paralyzed and bed-ridden for the last few years of his life. Raqib passed in 2014. Martha Ritchie and I gave Raqib a fair amount of assistance over the years. One thing we helped him do was build a sort of best of CD of his performances - I have a copy of this CD which never saw any sort of significant distribution. I sought and received permission from his estate to release this excellent compilation recording so that it can be heard by the world. As of this writing in July of 2015, this is the only disc I have so far released on Evil Clown, but I do have a high quality recording of one of the Ensemble Mogra performances and a party we played at a Mobius fundraising event. I also have a number of cassette recordings of other performances where I participated. I will eventually clean all of this up as best as I am able and release all that I have, so that others might appreciate the brilliance of this under-appreciated master musician.
PEK - 25 July 2015
Raqib Hassan Ensembles
On Leap of Faith: "Alien yet familiar, bizarre yet completely fascinating. Expanding, contracting, erupting, settling down, always as one force..." - Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG
On Metal Chaos Ensemble: "... using unique strategies to yield densely active and eerily surreal music, an incredible excursion through experimental improvisation." - Squidco website staff