215

Sun Ra Arkestra: Music for the 21st Century: Live at the Uncool Festival

By

Sign in to view read count
Sun Ra Arkestra: Music for the 21st Century: Live at the Uncool Festival Under the capable and deft hand of Marshall Allen, the Sun Ra Arkestra, against all odds, continues to tour and record. The band sounds as good as ever, the costumes and stage antics are still good clean fun, and most Earthlings still haven’t caught up.

The Arkestra, an effective mix of elder members and relative newcomers, mines the exhaustive, almost Ellingtonian output of music composed by Sonny Blount (Sun Ra) himself, extending the repertoire with works by Marshall Allen and Arnold Jenkins. This enormous body of work covers an impressively wide gamut of styles and sounds.

For their early set from their second of three nights at Iridium last month, the Arkestra began with a customary “sun salutation,” chanting “the world is waiting for the sunrise” over a hypnotic extended vamp, then reversed direction with a lively swing chart called “The Cosmic Hop,” which sounded just like that. Throughout the hour-and-a-half set there coursed a strong vein of hard bop and swing, liberally mixed with modal chants, free and conducted improvisation, even classic ballad. This would be an ambitious stylistic range for any band, but the Arkestra handles it all with the seeming ease of masters.

With the exception of Ra’s arrangement of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the Arkestra’s new release, Music for the 21st Century, seems preoccupied with music I identify with the ‘60s—repetitive patterns as vehicles for solos, leading to interludes of free or conducted improvisations, all generously laced with roots jazz and swing. Music for the 21st Century is well recorded and makes a fine document of the Arkestra’s current state, but there’s no substitute for the live experience, and I encourage all who haven’t already done so to catch this band as soon as possible. Duke Ellington died while I was still a young man, blissfully unaware of his monumental achievements and integral place in American culture. The Arkestra, even without its inimitable founder, remains a vital part of the culture too, continuing and augmenting Ra’s great contributions. There won’t be another band like it.


Track Listing: Century 21 / Tomorrow's World [Sun Ra] (9:31) Light and Darkness / Theme for Sunny Ray [Marshall Allen] (2:33) Super Nova [Marshall Allen] (4:43) Voices from Outer Space [Marshall Allen] (4:18) Pulsar [Marshall Allen] (5:09) Blue Intergalactic [Marshall Allen] (4:04) Blue Sun [Allen / Jenkins] (4:05) In-B-Tween / Mr. Mystery [Allen / Jenkins] (15:35) Reflex Motion [Sun Ra] (7:51) When You Wish Upon a Star [Washington / Harlet] (6:24) We Travel the Spaceways [Sun Ra] (8:41)

Title: Music for the 21st Century: Live at the Uncool Festival | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Havana Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Havana Blue
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Omío" CD/LP/Track Review Omío
by James Nadal
Published: August 31, 2016
Read "King For A Day" CD/LP/Track Review King For A Day
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 3, 2017
Read "Freedom is a State of Mind" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is a State of Mind
by Dave Wayne
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Acceptance" CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Jim Olin
Published: June 30, 2016
Read "Obfusc/ation" CD/LP/Track Review Obfusc/ation
by Doug Collette
Published: April 18, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.