Wednesday, March 18, 2009

New Sun Ra Arkestra DVD Release: Points On A Space Age by MVD Visual and Ephraim Asili

New Sun Ra Arkestra DVD Release: Points On A Space Age

Available: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Offers rare insight of the Arkestra and examines their current work (in the physical absence of Sun Ra) under the direction of Marshall Allen (now age 86).

(MVD) MVD Visual and Ephraim Asili are pleased to announce the home viewing release of Points On A Space Age for worldwide distribution on DVD May 19th. Points On A Space Age, filmed between Spring'06 and Spring '07, explores the recent activity of the remaining members of the influential Sun Ra Arkestra.

The film examines the work the Arkestra in the physical absence of Sun Ra. After Sun Ra "left the planet" direction of the band was left to his most faithful musician and companion Marshall Allen (a member of the band since to mid 1950's). Since the passing of Ra, the band under the direction of Allen (now age 86) continues to maintain an active touring schedule and continues to recruit younger members into the Sun Ra lifestyle. A lifestyle committed to human development through the disciples of Music and Spirituality.

For director and producer Ephraim Asili, the fascination with the Arkestra began one day during the summer of '98 in Philadelphia: It was a warm, clear, and sunny summer day. The Arkestra was giving a free concert in a park near their collective home/rehearsal space. Then it happened... Clear skies turned grey and a thunderstorm broke out. The audience evaporated. In the midst of all of this I stood in the rain as band members began jumping off of the bandstand, instruments in hand. I thought to myself "That's it… Time to go". Just as I began to leave I realized that the band was not running from the rain, they were starting some sort of procession through the park. The members began weaving through the storm and remaining spectators while at the same time playing some of the most beautiful and bizarre music that I had ever heard…

Points On A Space Age uses an approach as experimental as the band and functions to give those who have already seen the Arkestra an opportunity to experience them yet again, and for those that have not seen them it offers some insight into one of the most influential bands of the 20th Century.

The Arkestra, is an experimental big band formed in the mid 1950's around the teachings of, musician, philosopher, and spiritualist Sun Ra. Sun Ra, according to himself and his disciples believed that he was sent to this planet to prepare human beings for the world for the future, a future centered around space travel, and the human capacity to evolve with ever changing demands of a highly technological world. The members of Ra's band were not only band mates they were also disciples, students, and companions to their Guru bandleader. All band members where required to learn the philosophy of Ra, and many members lived with him as well. It was common for the band to practice of eight hours, only breaking for teachings, and then go out and play gigs. The band continued in this manner for approximately thirty years until Sun Ra "left the planet" in 1993.

Other Info:
Genre: Jazz
Run Time: 60 mins
Region Code: 0
# of Discs: 1
Audio: 5.1 SURROUND
Director: Ephraim Asili
Producers: Ephraim Asili

Friday, March 13, 2009

ESP April 2009 Releases

April 2009 Releases
street date: April 28th
pre-order today and will ship on April 1

ESP 4054 SUN RA featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold

In 1964, Sun Ra asked the young tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders to join him, while Arkestra mainstay John Gilmore was busy working with Paul Bley, Andrew Hill, and Art Blakey. Before the recording's original release in 1976, Sun Ra
stated: "It should be very interesting to the world to show what the pre-Coltrane Pharoah Sanders was like." Also appearing on "Featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold" is the little-heard flautist, Black Harold (Harold Murray), who takes the lead
on the track "The Voice of Pan," continuing into "Dawn over Israel." Bassist Alan Silva (ESP 1091) also does some fine bass work on the release.

"Featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold" is notable not only for its unique lineup, but also for the first known recording of the composition "The Shadow World," here titled "The World Shadow," which was featured on later Arkestra albums. Thisrelease contains an additional 45 minutes and 36 seconds of unreleased material.

ESP 3026 RONNIE BOYKINS The Will Come, Is Now

Legendary Sun Ra-bassist Ronnie Boykins stepped out on his own for his first and only release as a leader on, "The Will Come, Is Now". He was invited by ESP in 1964 to record his own album, and in February 1974, he told ESP that he was finally ready, and the session took place later that month. This recording not only features Boykins' solid abilities as a bassist, including his marvelous arco work, but also his talents as a composer and arranger. In addition, one is treated to an all-natural bass sound, a rare sound during this particular era of jazz history. In septet format, Boykins' six originals create a variety of moods and textures that not only evokes the music of Sun Ra but also reflects Boykins' own sensibilities as an artist.