Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

4

Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen at MECA

Frank Rubolino By

Sign in to view read count
Sun Ra Arksesta Directed by Marshall Allen
MECA
Houston, TX
November 15, 1999

Curator David Dove continued his quest to expose Houston audiences to world class improvising artists by presenting the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen. The band worked its magic on November 17, 1999, at MECA (Multicultural Education & Counseling Through the Arts), a community center that provides a platform for exposing students to multiple art forms such as visual art, modern dance, theater, and music.

In typical troubadour style, the Sun Ra Arkestra stormed a packed house for a double-set evening of thoroughly enjoyable music. The band transformed freeform music, swing, the blues, and other contrasting styles into a raucous ritual in testament to the living spirit of Ra. Allen had not lost a step or beat over the many years he has been associated with the band. He blew with fire and excitement that belied his age, but then again, this music is timeless. His dexterous manipulation of the alto keys created spontaneous enthusiasm that penetrated and ignited the knowledgeable crowd. Allen has put his stamp on this band, although much of the pomp and ceremony as well as the repertoire are closely identified with Ra.

The current band is a mixture of old, midterm, and new associates. In addition to Allen, who joined Ra in 1958, long time members such as drummer Luqman Ali (1977) and trombonist Tyrone Hill (1981) provide a stabilizing force, middle-tenure artists such as acrobatic reed player Noel Scott (1988) carry on the ideals, and newer members such as trombonist Dave Davis and trumpeters Fred Adams and David Gordon provide an original spark. The spirited guitar of veteran Bruce Edwards (1988) and the resounding bass of stalwart John Ore added a rare dimension to this music that can win over any crowd. Lyrics and vocalizing originated with another veteran, Art Jenkins, although every man in the band sang and chanted on cue. Percussionist emeritus Jimmi Esspirit, tenor player Yahya Abdul Majid, and surdo/percussionist and parade master Elson Nascimento completed the lineup.

Mixing spontaneous free blowing with fine unison play and familiar tunes, they kept the music off balance and exciting. The band chanted in fine Ra form and paraded through the audience with carefree abandon. Although the songs from Ra's vast book of outer space tunes were the most stimulating, classics such as Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" were highly original and captivating. This band showed that, with discipline and talent, the music of Ra is able to stay fresh and alive well into the new millennium. It was a fine night for music.

Earlier at MECA, Allen, Hill, and Ali gave a lecture on the history of Ra's music and also ran a workshop where the students rehearsed "Astro Black" and "Better Music Will Create a Better World."

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Date Detail Price
Jan4Fri
7:00 pm
Sun Ra Arkestra, Sun Ra And His Arkestra
Columbia City Theater
Seattle, WA
Jan25Fri
8:30 pm
Sun Ra Arkestra, Sun Ra And His Arkestra
Ottobar
Baltimore, MD
Apr30Tue
8:30 pm
Sun Ra Arkestra, Sun Ra And His Arkestra
Centre For Fine Arts - Bozar
Brussels, Belgium

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "David Johansen at The Space at Westbury" Live Reviews David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read "Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017" Live Reviews Mary Ellen Desmond: Comfort and Joy 2017
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Atlanta Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Atlanta Jazz Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 9, 2018
Read "Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater" Live Reviews Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: April 28, 2018