Source: The New York Times.
Members of the Sonic Arts Union helped rewire classical music in the 1960s. Literally: The founders of this collective used homemade electronics to power their experiments. And also metaphorically, by organizing festivals and producing albums for Columbia Records’ influential avant-garde series.
Their legacy would already have been formidable had it been limited to these activities and a focused span of touring, between 1966 and 1977. Yet after the union’s four founders stopped playing together regularly, they went on to achieve new individual heights as composers.
Source: Lapham’s Quarterly.
he last time I spoke with Sun Ra, I asked him for his take on the enduring legacy of the Great American Songbook. It was 1993. Ra had returned to Birmingham, Alabama, where he’d been born nearly eighty years before. He would die there, from complications associated with pneumonia, a few weeks later. The pianist, composer, and bandleader’s first published composition, “Alone with Just a Memory of You,” written in 1936 together with Henry McCellons, conveyed a tender, awkward Tin Pan Alley tone that betrayed his love of sentimental songcraft. This passion is driven home repeatedly in a survey of Ra’s magnificently gigantic discography. He employed anachronistic singers like Clyde Williams and Hattie Randolph. He played familiar compositions with double-entendre titles especially meaningful to him, such as “East of the Sun,” “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” “I Dream Too Much,” “Out of Nowhere,” “This Is Always,” “Second Star to the Right,” and “Over the Rainbow.” Never mind that Ra is known as one of the most adventurous and innovative figures in the history of the twentieth century. That he brought synthesizers to jazz. That his costumes and light shows paved the way for psychedelic rock. That he wrote apocalyptic and deeply philosophical poetry. That he identified as an extraterrestrial. That outer space and the unknown featured as prominently as ancient Egypt in his unique proto-Afrofuturist weltanschauung, which often manifested as a circus-like performance troupe that he called the Arkestra.
Source: burning ambulance.
Episode 21 of the Burning Ambulance podcast – we’re adults now! – features an interview with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, who’s been on the scene more or less since the dawn of the 21st century. He made his first album as a leader in 2002, but he really broke out of the pack in 2008, when he formed a quintet with JD Allen on tenor sax, Danny Grissett on piano, the late Dwayne Burno on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums. He made four albums with that group—November in 2008, Men of Honor in 2010, The Talented Mr. Pelt in 2011, and Soul in 2012—and they’re all terrific. That was where I started listening to him—the first album I heard was The Talented Mr. Pelt, and I went backward immediately and checked out Men of Honor and November, and Soul. I interviewed him for the site in 2011, and have written about him a lot in the years since, because he makes an album a year, and they’re always impressive.