AMN Reviews: Sun Ra Arkestra with Marshall Allen

Sun Ra Turns 100: Sun Ra Arkestra with Marshall Allen
Review by Monique Avakian

“Every light is a vibrational sight and sound…”
–Sun Ra, The Other Side of Music, 1972

The overall feel of this show collected into a vibe that still activates for the positive, days later. On October 5, 2013, the Sun Ra Arkestra played an extended two sets totaling over four hours at Lincoln Center. Those of you who play jazz know the kind of physical stamina it takes to do so. Those of you who have never seen guys well over 60 and some well over 70 play like this (and dance throughout the room up and down the stairs), well, perhaps you might become more inclined to respect your elders. Many younger folks could not even begin to handle such a feat on a physical level. Of course, the younger players in the band are also to be commended — not only for keeping up, but each leading in his/her own unique way. The level of musicianship was astounding!

On a spiritual level, the group has managed to keep the essence of Sun Ra alive and well, largely under the firm, yet warm direction of original member, Marshall Allen. Dressed like the wizard he is, Allen led with superior conduction skills, wielded largely through osmosis with the band and supported with well-timed hand signals when necessary. Since the group nears the 25 mark in number of personnel, this was really impressive to witness. Other magic conjured by Allen translated to us through the use of visual symbolism (i.e., moving his fingers rapidly near the sax keys while not touching them, but still blowing in a kinesthetic sound~poem~kind~of~way). Allen also had an electronic wind instrument that he used judiciously. Near the end, I did wish for an analog theramin. However, since the band was playing the audience like a theramin, I guess the digital element didn’t really matter.

Another digital element that also augmented the experience consisted of artist Michael Arthur drawing live on a computer screen, with his images projected above the band. His style complemented the space~vibe, especially his choice of neon green, pink and black colors. The digital medium lent itself to a fluidity that kept pace with the band pretty well. The artist’s choice of themes mainly fell into portraiture of players, but at one point, he had hands playing strings inside a circle. A magnificently potent image!

The music was just spectacular. During the second set, the tunes were arranged to alternate between free improv creations (again, with nearly 25 players!) and standards morphed a la’ Ra. Oh, and by the way, the instrumentation included acoustic full sized harp, French horn, flute, samba drum, violin, spoken word and cello along with all the usual instrumentation you’d expect. Near the end, the ultimate in funk came through (this is a percussion section of five players after all). The last four tunes in particular waved throughout the room and right through the roof of The Allen Room, showering the city with blessings and delight on a cellular, as well as stellar, level.

At first I thought the location might make Sun Ra unhappy for socio-cultural reasons, but by the end, I think the significant irony actually lent another level of space he would have appreciated, especially since it forces us to confront the very uncomfortable social realities we all keep trying to ignore.

The Sun Ra Arkestra is an uplifting, wild experience that honors the legacy of a creative radical who remains radical to this day.

The Man Himself:
Sun Ra Montreux 1976 (II): Take The A Train
Sun Ra solo mind-blowing intro, followed by band:

Sun Ra – Interview + Live Toronto 1991

NEXT SHOW in nyc:

December 13 at NUBLU
As part of the NUBLU Jazz Festival December 4-22, 2013
62 Avenue C between 4th and 5th Streets, NYC
http://www.nublujazzfestival.com/

Arkestra Today:

http://www.sunraarkestra.com/1-index.html

Sun-Ra Related Art:
Pathways to Unknown Worlds: Sun-Ra
El Saturn and Chicago’s Afro-Futurist Underground 1954-68
Curated by John Corbett, Anthony Elms and Terri Kapsalis
Whitewalls books/Hyde Park Art Center

Sun Ra’s Poetry:
Sun Ra: Collected Works Vol. I: Immeasurable Equation
edited by Adam Abraham
Phaelos Books

Sun Ra Biography:
Space is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra
by John F. Szwed
Da Capo Press

In the half-between world, 

Dwell they: The Tone Scientists 

In notes and tone 

They speak of many things…
The tone scientists: 

Architects of planes of discipline 

Mathematically precise are they: 

The tone-scientists

~Sun Ra

Is that jazz? Explore improvisation, composition and more at Seattle festival

From the Seattle Times Newspaper:

Formal composition vs. spontaneous creativity is the prevailing theme at a series of experimental jazz performances called Is That Jazz? Seattle’s Avant Jazz Music Festival.

The festival convenes Friday night with two performances at the Chapel Performance Space in Wallingford by the Sunship quintet and the Sun Ra Tribute Band, named for the jazz composer, pianist and philosopher who helped pioneer free jazz in the 1950s and ’60s. The event continues Saturday night with performances by esteemed clarinetist Bill Smith’s trio and bassist Evan Flory-Barnes’ big band, called Threat of Beauty.

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DMG Newsletter January 8th, 2010

From DMG:

Eri Yamamoto! Poulsen/Nilssen/Moholo! Milo Fine! Rob Paparozzi Sam Rivers! Douglas Ewart with Leo Smith! Crothers/Bisio! Muhal Richard Abrams/Roscoe Mitchell! Fred Ho! Walton/Hutcherson/Land! Schuller/Lovano/Motian! Sun Ra!..

Downtown Music Gallery FREE In-Store Performance Schedule Continues with:

Sunday, January 10th at 6pm:
JEREMIAH CYMERMAN / CHRISTOPHER HOFFMAN / HARRIS EISENSTADT!
Extraordinary New Clarinet / Cello / Percussion Trio!

Sunday, January 17th at 6pm:
ANDY HAAS & DEE POP!
Two Magical/Mystical Musicians Return to DMG for a Rare Duo Set!

Sunday, January 24th at 6pm:
RAS MOSHE / KYOKO KITAMURA/ REUT REGEV / ANDERS NILSSON!
Master reeds wiz Ras brings his new to DMG!

Sunday, January 31st at 6pm:
JESSE ELDER & LOGAN RICHARDSON!
Excellent Piano & Alto Sax Duo & CD Release Celebration!

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Respect Sextet and Ethan Iverson coming to Le Poisson Rouge

From NY’s Le Poisson Rouge:

FORMED IN 2001, The Respect Sextet is a powerhouse ensemble dedicated to performing a wide variety of improvisational musics. Relying on their explosive energy, rare telepathy, outstanding musicianship, and a deep friendship, Respect pieces together free improvisations, original compositions, free jazz classics, television commercial jingles, text pieces, jazz standards, game pieces and more into “a whirling collage,” shouts Exclaim! Magazine, “that ransacks and reshapes the entire jazz tradition, from New Orleans march to Misha Mengelberg, Sun Ra to Charlie Parker.” Named “one of the best and most ambitious new ensembles in jazz” by Signal to Noise.

Respect returns to LPR’s stage on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 to present a set of exciting original music. Opening the show will be the innovative pianist Ethan Iverson (of The Bad Plus), playing a set of “cocktail music” on solo piano.

Tickets: $10 (Advance tickets available at http://lepoissonrouge.inticketing.com/events/62254)
Doors: 9:30pm Show time: 10:00pm
http://lepoissonrouge.com/events/view/795

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DMG Newsletter November 20th, 2009

From DMG:

Vandermark All-Star 10-CD Set! Evan Parker QT! Brotzmann Solo! Meredith Monk! Jose Maceda! Braxton & Leandre! Ivo Perelman Trio! John Wolf Brennan Solo! Bobby Previte Group! Swallow/Talmor/Nussbaum!

Gianluca Petrella Cosmic Sun Ra Band! Campbell/McPhee/Parker/Smith Ayler Project! David Murray! Trevor Watts! Leandre/Vidal/Boni! Jamaaladeen Tacuma! Bauer/Thomas/Buck! Tom Waits Live! Luc Ferrari! Rolf Kuhn Tri-O!

Wertmuller/Rupp! .. and Rupp/Pliaks/Wertmuller! Sommer/Phillips/Schoof/Trovesi! Leimgruber/Demierre/Phillips! Stockhausen! Bern/Brody/Rodach! Merzbow! Erdman/Steidle! Oren Ambarchi! Four Moondog CDs! Thomas Heberer Trio!

Bloodbath: King/Otomo/Umezu/Koichi! Gong 2032: Classic ‘Radio Gnome’ lineup Re-United! Unreleased Funkadelic!

and ..omigosh! ..Classic ‘Horo’ Albums FINALLY released on CD: Sun Ra, Sam Rivers, Archie Shepp, Konitz/Solal, Johhy Griffin!

**********

Downtown Music Gallery FREE In-Store Performance Schedule Continues with:

This Sunday, November 22nd at 6pm:
ANDERS NILSSON – Guitar Wiz Will Blow Your Mind!

Sunday, November 29th at 6pm – DoubleHeader!: NONOKO YOSHIDA & DAVE SCANLON!
Wonderful New Sax & Guitar Duo!
BIGGI VINKELOE & STEVE SWELL!
Swedish Alto Sax Great Meets Downtown Trombone Giant!

Sunday, December 6th at 6pm:
ERGO! Cuneiform Recording Artists Featuring:
BRETT SROKA / SAM HARRIS / SHAWN BALTAZOR!
Celebrating the Release of their Fabulous New CD!

Sunday, December 13th at 6pm:
MIKKO INNANEN / JOE FONDA / LOU GRASSI!
Superb Reeds / Acoustic Bass / Drums Trio!

Tuesday, December 15th at 6pm:
DANIEL LEVIN / INGEBRIGT HAKER-FLATEN / FRANK ROSALY!
New Cello / Contrabass / drums Trio! Rare DMG Tuesday Gig!

Sunday, December 20th at 6pm:
JUDITH INSELL & REUT REGEV!
Amazing New Viola & Trombone Duo!

Sundays, December 27th & January 3rd – nothing scheduled

Sunday, January 10th at 6pm:
JEREMIAH CYMERMAN / CHRISTOPHER HOFFMAN / HARRIS EISENSTADT!
Extraordinary New Clarinet / Cello / Percussion Trio!

Sunday, January 17th at 6pm:
ANDY HAAS & DEE POP!
Two Magical/Mystical Musicians Return to DMG for a Rare Duo Set!

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The Squid’s Ear Reivews

From the Squid’s Ear:

Peter Evans:
nature / culture
(psi)

Archetti, Luigi / Bo Wiget:
Low Tide Digitals III
(Rune Grammofon)

Charity Chan:
Somewhere the sea and salt
(Ambiances Magnetiques)

Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Solar Research Arkestra:
Helsinki 1971 – The Complete Concert & Interview (2 CDs & DVD)
(Transparency)

Savoldelli, Boris & Elliott Sharp:
Protoplasmic
(MoonJune Records)

Blast 4tet:
Sift
(ReR Megacorp)

Cancura / Morris / Nazary:
Fine Objects
(Not Two)

Pansonic / Haino Keiji:
Shall I Download A Blackhole And Offer It To You
(Blast First Petite)

Fred Anderson:
Staying in the Game
(Engine)

Francois Carrier and Michel Lambert:
Nada
(Creative Sources)

Honsinger, Tristan & Massimo Simonini:
Call Me Us
(I Dischi de )

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Edgefest 2009

This year’s Edgefest takes place late next month in Ann Arbor.

SCHEDULE: Edgefest 2009 (subject to change)
Wednesday:
7PM KCH: Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore
9:30PM KCH: Roscoe Mitchell and Thomas Buckner

Thursday:
8PM KCH: Tomas Ulrich’s Cargo Cult
10PM KCH: Positive Knowledge

Friday:
8PM KCH: Gravitas
10PM KCH: 4 Altos and Third Man Trio

Saturday:
2PM KCH: Conspiracy Winds Ensemble
4PM KCH: Yuganaut with Roscoe Mitchell
7PM KCH: Brad Shepik’s Human Activity Quintet
9PM Place TBA: Reeding-The Riot Act
10:30PM KCH: Hamster Theatre

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Upcoming Detroit Shows

From the Bohemian in Exile folks:

Saturday, August 15th: Kenneth Green/Dushun Mosley Duo, Jeff Marx Detroit Quartet @ Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID)

A member of of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement Musicians, Dushun Mosley is a percussionist extraordinaire. In addition to work with other AACM artists and other greats like Roscoe Mitchell, Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Davis and Don Cherry, Dushun is a member of Eight Bold Souls, The AACM Big Band and co-leads The Vizitors with Detroit pianist Kenny Green. Kenny also has worked with Roscoe Mitchell, Douglas Ewart and a host of Detroit favorites like Faruq Z. Bey, Michael Carey and Skeeter Shelton. This is duo is reputably a full-tilt powerhouse.

A native of southeastern Michigan, saxophonist Jeff Marx now makes his home in Chicago. His work stradles the fence of post-bop and freer playing, delivered with a big tone and confident approach. His Detroit quartet will consist of Joel Peterson (double bass) and Marko Novachcoff (reeds) with a drummer TBA.

Doors at 8 pm; sliding scale donation, $5-10. CAID is located at 5141 Rosa Parks, just a couple blocks N. of Warren Ave.

Thursday, August 27th: Sun Ra Tribute by Planet D Nonet, featuring Kenny Millions at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (CAID).
Planet D Nonet, the new big band spearheaded by drummer RJ Spangler and trumpeter James O’ Donnell, presents a tribute night to Sun Ra. Afficianados of innovative arrangements of Ellingtonia and Fletcher Henderson (who was one of Ra’s first employers), Planet D has always alluded to the edgier stylings of the Arkestra, but this night they’re really going for it. Ex-Detroiter Kenny Millions will be in town to lead the winds through the obstacle course of Ra’s charts, much as he has navigated through the avant compositions of ensembles like the Dutch super-group The Instant Composers Pool.

The evening will also feature a 20 minute film of Ra and Lyman Woodard, Detroit’s recently passed organ legend. Doors at 8 pm; $5-10 sliding scale donation. CAID is located at 5141 Rosa Parks, just a couple blocks N. of Warren Ave.

9/28 Huun Huur Tu

10/2 Digital Primitives

10/22 Jason Stein

11/20 Mike Tamburo and Ben Reynolds

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Creative Music Workshop at the Chicago Jazz Fest

saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell at the Pomigliano ...
Image via Wikipedia

From All About Jazz:

Chicago, IL – September 2nd and 3rd the Chicago Jazz Festival, a partnership between the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the Jazz Institute of Chicago, presents the Chicago Creative Music Workshop (CCMW), under the direction of Nicole Mitchell and Renee Baker. Sponsored by the Chicago Jazz Festival and the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, the CCMW will offer a unique opportunity to learn from master improvisers and perform with them in a variety of settings.

Why start a Creative Music workshop in Chicago? Co-Director Nicole Mitchell explains: “Creative music is one of Chicago’s greatest cultural strengths. It’s a local secret that has long been praised internationally. Perhaps the seed was the early work of Sun Ra, and later, the inception of the AACM, with its great trailblazers including Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, George Lewis and many more. Chicago is the perfect home for this endeavor. Creative music is now more vital than ever here; it incubates at Fred Anderson’s Velvet Lounge, Elastic Arts and the Hungry Brain and reverberates throughout the world. We owe it to Chicago to provide a place and time where international and local Chicago musicians of this distinct, high level music can study, talk about and develop this music, in an accessible educational environment.”

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The Deep End Ensemble in Syracuse

From Metropolis Underground:

The Deep End Ensemble – July 11th @ 8pm

Ian Ash is the director and author of “The Deep End Ensemble.” He utilizes a variety of mallet instruments to compose organic jazz music. His music is interwoven with international rhythms, international harmony, 21st century counterpoint, polyphonic textures, exotic themes, American Jazz theory, eclectic improvisation structures, and spontaneous experimentation. The Deep End Ensemble features Bruce Eisenbeil (CIMP recording artist, co-leader of Carnival Skin) on guitars, and Wilbo Wright (Yo La Tengo, Car music project) on Double Bass. The Deep End Ensemble has performed at The Rotunda (@ University of Pennsylvania), The Manhattan Room, and Saint Lukes Church performing series (@ University of Pennsylvania), Connexions Gallery (Easton, PA), Hotcakes gallery in Milwaukee, Nick Utrie’s Small house theater in Green Bay, WI., The Kitty Cat Klub in Minneapolis, Brown Rice in Chicago, Kerry Town Concert House in Ann Arbor, Garfield Arts in Pittsburgh, Fearless Radio in Chicago, 2008 Boise, Idaho experimental music festival, 2008 Sonic Circuits Music Festival in Washington, DC, and 2008 Chicago Calling Arts Festival. Ian Ash has played percussion with innovative guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil, blues man Sonny Rhodes, saxophonist Sonny Fortune, Sun Ra guitarist Dave Middleton, bassist Christian McBride, trombonist Bill Watrous, violinist John Blake, and Mingus Big Band drummer Jonathan Blake.

myspace.com/thedeependensemble

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