Was Hasaan Ibn Ali the missing piano link between Monk and Cecil Taylor?

Jazz history is filled with romantic figures that could have, or should have, become famous, but didn’t. In this piece for Vinyl Me, Please magazine, Ben Ratliff, adds another name to the list: Hasaan Ibn Ali. A singular piano stylist like Herbie Nichols or Charles Mingus sideman John Dennis, the Philadelphia-based Ali spent his time during the 1950s and 1960s practising all day and then “gigging” at local fans’ houses for coffee and cake. Although he made one trio LP with drummer Max Roach, who sponsored him as “The Legendary Hasaan”, and bassist Art Davis, mostly he jammed with, influenced and passed on his musical theories to the small group of better-known players who frequented the sessions that took place in the front room of his home. They included such later notable figures as saxophonists Odean Pope and John Coltrane and bassists Jimmy Garrison and Jymie Merritt. Although as the article relates, he had worked in clubs with R&B bands during the 1940s, the mature playing of Ali, who died in 1980, was so uncompromising and his personality was so otherworldly, that he made other advanced stylists like Thelonious Monk, who was known before him; Cecil Taylor, who came to prominence after him; and his contemporary Nichols seem like careerists.