, whose expressionistic, free-jazz drumming helped define the experimental style of John Coltranes final years, died Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 76.
The cause of his death was a heart attack, his wife, Patricia Ali, said.
Mr. Ali, who first encountered Coltrane in their Philadelphia neighborhood in the late 1950s, made the leap from admiration to participation in the mid-1960s, when he joined Elvin Jones as a second drummer with Coltranes ensemble at the Village Gate in November 1965 He recorded with Coltrane and Jones on the 1965 album Meditations and, after replacing Jones as Coltranes drummer, on the duet album Interstellar Space (1967), one of the purest expressions of the free-jazz movement. On Mr. Alis Web site, his playing is described as a multi-rhythmic, polytonal propellant, helping fuel Coltranes flights of free-jazz fancy.