Ahmad Ali is a jazz and R&B guitarist. He is also the host of WUSB’s radio show Cafe Ali, in which he discusses topical and artistic issues with a wide range of guests.
He is a man who is interested in many issues to do with higher consciousness and creativity.
He met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about music and the Long Island murders.
You’re an accomplished musician in whose guitar playing I hear the tones of George Benson. Who are your influences and what do you make of Carlos Santana’s observation that music can alter our molecular structure?
I originally wanted to be a Bass player inspired by Bootsy Collins. My father insisted that I play Guitar, and that I would be able to play bass also, which was accurate in his era and from a rudimentary view. The Bass has become a very different instrument in the last 40 years. My father really dug Wes Montgomery and by the time I started playing he had passed away well over a decade. George Benson however was conquering the Pop and Jazz charts. His appeal is inescapable. He is a very slick polished, virtuoso of guitar. A singer who is poised to be historically recognized for his Pop success. So Yes I dig Mr. Benson a lot. When I met him the first time I called him the “Holy Prophet of Jazz Guitar. I do tire of being compared to him, I am not really at that level. Maybe if this was my livelihood and I woke up every day to work at Music, I could get there. Johnny Guitar Watson was a favorite also. He combined Blues and Funk with Jazz overtones. George Clinton, Michael W. Hampton are great influences on me. Jimi Hendrix (I often wondered why George Benson never covered Hendrix, Wow).
Carlos Santana emerged as a favorite of mine early, because his music is easier to play. I am amazed at the second Question. I am an Advanced Reiki Practitioner and so many things I have studied in life are coming together. Chanting has been used to open the Chakras since ancient times. Amplifying the chant and adding a little reverb, creates a resonance. Using instruments like a guitar amplified and over driven to the extent of creating harmonic feedback, utilized by someone who knows the correlation of notes to chakras, can from a new age perspective, enhance and elevate the vibrations of the people before them. In some cases the more finely attuned audiences begin to move, unable to stop themselves from Joyous Gyrations and Frolicking about. Every thing in creation is vibration, from solids to liquid to gas, sound, light and the ether that the Angels communicate through. Exposure to all of these effect our molecular structure. That is why, it is of the highest importance to let love guide your actions. Our actions send out waves just as a pebble dropped in a pond creates a wave. Its vibration affects the water even as the eye no longer sees the ripple.
Fabien Maman developed Tama Do and claims he uses sound frequencies to heal people. Do you think the distant healing as used by Reiki practitioners is using sound that falls beneath our conscious level of hearing and how does Western medicine fail when compared to the Eastern model?
As I was saying earlier everything in creation is a vibration. Sound is vibration that our ears sense and other parts may feel when it’s amplified. Energy that is unseen or inaudible is of a higher vibration. We often do not acknowledge higher vibrations as a conditioning of a materialistic society. The Still Small Voice in your conscience the voice of the “Higher Self” or the “Holy Breath”. The ability to read the Acacia. To heal from a distance is more a reality that the tangible point “A” to point “B” of western ideology.
Western medicine will save your life when catastrophe is upon you. Living in balance can avoid catastrophe. Eastern wisdom is that of self sufficiency and balance. A life style that can not be capitalized upon there for a threat to western medicine. These are the modern day money changers that would be run out of the Temple by Jesus (Yahashua Ben David). He was the Master of Masters of Healing on all levels. In Heaven and Earth our Father’s Will, (a Vibration) be done. Thoughts are vibrations. The spirit of creation is described in Torah as Elohim, Koran describes, the Creator as saying “Kum Fia Kum” (Be and it is). Torah also says God said “Let there Be Light!”. All sounds and vibrations. Not only healing but creating.
The Laws of the Universe are that which we need to be as close to unison as possible or at least harmonizing with. Then the “Force” is with You.
William Blake wrote ‘God appears and God is light to those poor souls who dwell in night and does a human form display to those who dwell in realms of day’. Do you think if we get closer to the divinity of our own beings we are more apt to see god in others?
The Creator speaks to us through each other. We all have moments of Higher consciousness. When our intentions are built on Love, Mercy and the Harmonies in life. We hear as well as speak for God. He is closer to us than our own heartbeat. His voice is ever present around us, and in us and all of creation, when we tune in. Love is the principal. We all need to learn to love instead of hate. Love is the divinity. Love is the vibration, the sound, the Force that heals and creates. The one thing the human form is capable of is Misery. Misery is the darkness and self fulfilling prophecy. We have the ability to shine a light on that darkness by controlling our thoughts. Accentuating the positive. There are many tools in the workshop of the mind that we can use to build up our character and keep our thoughts within the boundaries of positive navigation in life. This navigation and the fellowship with like minds draws us ever near to the Divine Architect.
Tell us about your band and how important playing live is to you.
I have to say I am recuperating right now from last night’s performance at a little club on the water in Amityville (hometown of the Amityville Horror). The thing I told the crowd at one point is they needed to get up and dance because we don’t get paid a lot and we need them to entertain us also. Make us feel appreciated and loved, which they had been doing all night but were just taking a break. The dance floor immediately filled back up! This band is called Snap and we play high energy party music. Funk and R+B. Live performance is as much of a mood enhancement for me as it is the audience. The vision of music is a dancer. Seeing and interacting with the crowd is fun especially when they are a happy bunch. My other projects the Ahmad Ali Trio and Duo are less of a thrill but usually more rewarding financially. As I get older I enjoy the zone of entertaining more.
What do you think is motivating the Long Island murderer?
Actually from the rumors that have gone around, that area has always been a dumping ground. The area is very desolate. At the same time it is accessible feeding into many highways and a large waterfront without a great deal of police visibility. The residents usually have a lot of privacy and space between communities. This makes it easy to slip between the cracks.
The idea I have in my head is that some of the murders were done by organizations that needed to silence or dispose of uncooperative sex workers. People disappear all the time. Cases go cold and there must be this great limbo. Unidentified remains and missing persons. Someone with a boat, could carry a body from the Gulf or Caribbean and pull up to shore on our Island and dispose of it.
A few years ago a ship with immigrants in it, was caught near the Rockaways. What they were slated to do when they arrived we won’t know. We may have sex trafficking activity on many levels. This is all my speculation and overactive imagination.
Do you think that the West is imposing its own concepts on other cultures?
Absolutely (Do you think of Vodka when you see that word?). The hypocrisy of using war in some countries to establish democracy and not others is an example. Imposing sanctions on others who don’t submit to us. Taking resources from countries and selling them back to them. Our lack of knowledge on word history makes us prime vics for corrupt, greedy law makers and the corporations who support them. The “New World Order” looks more like the Leviathan. The faceless, soulless and evil entity that governs us now, the Market Economy. It is traveling to and fro the earth seeking whom it may devour. When the fleecing has hit a high mark a donation will be made in the name of corporation x to remember the great culture they destroyed.
Has any one event changed your life?
That is difficult to narrow down. The Birth of my children and the passing of my Parents. The world my children will have to deal with, and me having to deal with the world with out the counsel and friend ship of my parents. It is however great to grow friendships with my children as they are becoming themselves. I will describe that as one event, my life.
The Murders of Yusef Hawkins, Amadou Diallo, and Jesus, also prompted me to be active in the community.
Do you think that humanity is at war with itself and religion has stoked the flames?
From the time of Constantine adopting the appearance of following the teachings of the Messiah. Creating a state religion and making him self the representative of God on earth (or does Vicrius File De, mean in place of the Lord). After all Ceasars are the only God allowed to be worshiped under Roman law. Alexander burning the libraries to control the media of that time. The conquest of Mohammed The First Over Byzantine. The Crusades, the wars between the Hindus and Muslims. The Protestants and the Catholics in Ireland. The new fundamentalism of Al Qaeda and the K.K.K The word it self is descriptive Re-Legionizing people instead of uniting. “The Peace of Society Dependeth on Justice”. If a religion promotes political, material gain and control of people as opposed to Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom, and Justice for all Nations, then it is stoking the Flames.
Who do you like reading and why?
I am intrigued by crime mysteries and the process of reconstructing the crime and getting into the head of the Detective and the killer. I was trying to read Keith Richards’ book and it didn’t hold my attention. C. E. Lawrence has a way of telling the story. Introducing characters living around real land marks. For instance she has a scene that takes place in the morgue. The description is stomach churning in its effect. Being from the region where the story takes place is an added perk. The way events weave in and out of each other also keeps you on the edge. There is an intangible quality in the story that GRIPS you.
What are the most extraordinary experiences you have had on air as DJ?
So many wonderful interactions have occurred it would be easier to mention the less extraordinary. To pick one is almost criminal. C.E. Lawrence is one of the most intriguing and well versed personalities I have spoken with. Dr Veronica Andersen was an excellent guest. I wish I had more time with her. Mike (Kidd Funkadelic Hampton) my guitar hero, is not talkative. He is more expressive with his guitar. Roy Ayers struck me though. He made me feel like I had known him for Years. Seventy years Young, he is youthful in his approach and view towards life. Yet he has an abundance of knowledge and experiences to share. A true gentleman. Our conversation extended from the studio into the street, and onto the subway and he had to tell me my stop was next. I almost rode all the way uptown with him. The conversation was that good. I felt the connection of friendship. He is a people person, as we walked down the street he greeted people and had small conversations with them. All this while still engaged in our conversation. We spoke (in studio) for an hour I edited down to half an hour for WBAI. I used the entire interview at WUSB.
Thank you Ahmad for giving an insightful and memorable interview.
Find all things Ahmad Ali—music, videos, radio show info, press articles and more—on his website here.