The cause of death is "under investigation," his companion Melanie Futorian told the Times.
Born in New York, Alias played the congas with the Eartha Kitt Dance Foundation as a teenager. In 1957, he traveled with Kitt to the Newport Jazz Festival, where he played with Dizzy Gillespie.
In the 1960s, Alias became the drummer, and later, musical director for Simone. In 1969, he joined Davis's group and appeared on the seminal jazz-rock album Bitches Brew.
Other jazz and rock artists with whom he appeared include Joni Mitchell, Roberta Flack, David Sanborn, and Herbie Hancock. His conga playing, the Times says, "augment[ed] a rhythm section in a way that was urgent but never intrusive."