fishing without a pole
Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marhsall Allen: Live, last night at Cat's Cradle. Full-on cosmic rays and space chant were in fine order for a 3+ hrs of combined sets. Almost ramshackle at times, Allen jolted members with hand signs and waves to bring them in/out of step with seamless transfusions of melting horns to interlocking multi-melodies. (Allen took the Arkestra controls in 1995 after the death of John Gilmore, who had previously lead after Sun Ra left the planet on. May 30, 1993.) There were 14-16 members on stage or in the audience at all times. Baritone saxists Charles Davis (who joined the Arkestra in 1955) took a few blazing solos that spanned Count Baise-swing to scattering freedom notes, and even a dead-on Chicago-style blues number ("I'm goin fishin without a pole, without a line"). Outside of Allen's totally erratic solos (that blurted out in almost ecstatic Ayler-style), Art Jenkins (member since 1960) was the cherry on top for me: when he wasn't tapping on an unamplified drum (aka, no one in the audience could hear it) he belted out lead space chant and summoned the Ra spirit. Plus, his blaring funnel solos! Yes, just blowing into a funnel that sounded as if he was under water and loosin' breath. While the Arkestra operates without any organ/keys/Moog since Ra ascended, the vacancy is filled by Allen's EVI (electronic valve instrument) which seemed to be a long kazoo with a ring modulator on the end; the Saturn vibes were showering down.
While their tour wraps up in a few days, Allen is heading out in March for "Spaceship on the Highway Tour" with master free jazz bassist Henry Grimes. Side note: If you haven't heard the truly bizarre comeback story of Mr. Grimes, you need to spend a few minutes reading it.
3.4.05 - 4O9 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD
3.6.05 - Brew House, Pittsburgh, PA
3.8.05 - WBLV 90.3 Twin Lake, MI
3.9.05 - Young Soul Rebel Records, Detroit, MI
3.11 + 12.05 - Quartet w/ Fred Anderson, & Avreeayl Ra, Hot House, Chicago. IL
3.15.05 - 128O1-3 Buckeye Rd., Cleveland, OH
3.17.05 - Rosewood Theater, Morgantown, WV
3.18.05 - Slought Foundation, Philadelphia, PA
3.19.05 - Clemente Soto Velez Center, 1O7 Suffolk St., NYC
If you can't make it out, you can always spend time tracking down the 100+ releases in the Ra discography; watching the solar mind-meld Space is the Place, a feature-length film that brings you up on Ra truth and Ra myth; or fade into prime-1968-era Ra from the Solar-Myth Approach Vol. 2 (Actuel):
Sun Ra and His Solar Myth Arkestra - The Utter-Nots