Celebrating the Sun Ra Centennial


English: Sun Ra at New England Conservatory, F...

Sun Ra 

From the Chicago Reader:

May 22 was the official centennial of the birth of the brilliant bandleader, composer, and keyboardist Sun Ra, but I’m thankful that the entire year is being used to celebrate his memory and particular brand of visionary genius. Chicago, where Herman Poole Blount (a native of Birmingham, Alabama) assembled the earliest versions of his Arkestra in 1953, has gotten in on the act in numerous ways, but some of the most exciting events are happening this week. Yesterday, as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival, saxophonist Marshall Allen (who took the reins of Arkestra after the death of fellow saxophonist John Gilmore in 1995, two years after Ra passed away), trumpeter Art Hoyle (who played with the Arkestra in the 50s), writer and Columbia University professor John Szwed (who authored the authoritative Sun Ra biography Space Is the Place), and writer, gallerist, and Sun Ra scholar John Corbett engaged in a lively, discursive panel discussion on Ra’s legacy at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall. And on Sunday, Allen will lead the Arkestra in a performance that will close out this year’s festival, with an 8:30 PM set at Pritzker Pavilion.

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Sun Ra Arkestra: Still out of This World


Sun Ra

Cover of Sun Ra

From The Hamilton Spectator:

Born 100 years ago in Birmingham, Ala., Herman Poole Blount was gifted with a keen ear for music. He cut his teeth playing piano in burlesque joints in the mid-1930s. By 1947, he’d completed a stint as pianist and staff arranger for the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. In the mid-1950s, he changed his name to Le Sony’r Ra, and established his band which appeared under various names, the constant there being Arkestra. With their Afro-Egyptian outfits, colourful robes, capes and headgear, the band certainly stood out from the pack.

Pharoah Sanders Profiled


From the Arkansas Times:

Last March, in a conference room at the former Peabody Hotel, Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola stood up to address a small gathering of mostly out-of-town academics. He cleared his throat, thanked everyone for coming. To the mayor’s immediate left was seated Pharoah Sanders, the pioneering avant-garde saxophonist who Ornette Coleman, no amateur, once called “probably the best tenor player in the world.” The speech went on for a few more minutes and ended with the mayor proclaiming that day, March 8, “Pharoah Sanders Day here in the city of Little Rock.”

A Day in the Life of Meredith Monk


From NYTimes.com:

Meredith Monk, the composer, singer, director, choreographer, Buddhist practitioner and inveterate boundary pusher, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of her career this fall with performances at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Carnegie Hall. A taste of what’s to come is offered on Aug. 23 at Guild Hall in East Hampton, Long Island, where she will perform with her Grammy-nominated Vocal Ensemble.

Faust: Whatever happened to ‘the German Beatles’?


From the BBC:

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw in West Germany the formation of an extraordinary handful of experimental groups, including Amon Düül 2, Can, Kraftwerk, Neu! and Cluster. These groups were often misunderstood and even ignored, not least in their own country, and in the UK were banded together under the term ‘Krautrock’, which they understandably resented.  Today, the Krautrock groups are regarded as having exercised a huge influence on subsequent generations and genres including techno, post-punk, electropop, ambient and ‘post-rock’.  However, perhaps the strangest of all of these avant-garde outfits, certainly the one with the strangest back story, is Faust, who formed in Hamburg and released their debut album on the German Polydor label in 1971.

Matt Bauder’s Ever-evolving Sound


Matt Bauder web coverFrom the Bleader:

Reedist Matt Bauder spent just a few years in Chicago, between 1999 and 2001, but he made a strong mark—and the city’s improvised music scene left its imprint on him in return. He’s a no-nonsense musician with an abiding curiosity. He has forged a deliberately mercurial musical personality over the years. There’s nothing mysterious about his ideas or interests, but their nonchalant diversity and range have made it hard to pin him down as this or that.

Tyshawn Sorey Profiled


English: Tyshawn Sorey at moers festival 2010

English: Tyshawn Sorey at moers festival 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Jazz Right Now:

Sorey was born and raised in Newark, NJ and developed a curiosity about new music from an early age. By high school he had found a handful of friends and elders in the community who also helped open doors. He grew up playing trombone and found himself rehearsing every Friday night with other like-minded people and playing small gigs and weddings. It was through a friendship with the late poet and jazz aficionado Halim Suliman, however, that he met Amiri Baraka, and soon thereafter he met, studied with, and performed with many established figures such as Steve Colson, Grachan Moncur III, John Hicks, and others. At Baraka’s house, Sorey was drawn into ongoing conversations about politics, music, and what was going on in Newark and its surrounding areas during that time. As he became more enmeshed in the community of musicians in Newark, he caught his first break when he was asked to perform in Baraka’s Lost Jazz Shrines project, and later on in a Baraka-led production with legendary drummer-composer Max Roach.