Saturday, June 27, 2009

1982 NME Strange Celestial Road Review

Sun Ra Arkestra Live Dates Summer 2009



















http://www.as220.org/front/2009/06/foo-fest-coming-soon.html

July 1st. Philadelphia, PA, Institute of Contemporary Art
July 4th. Lisbon, Portugal, Setubal/Arrabida World Music festival.
July 10th. Vienne, France, Jazz a Vienne Festival.
July 30th. Sardinia, Italy, Cala Gonone Jazz Festival.
August 1st. Standon, U.K., Standon Calling Festival Poster
August 15th. Providence, Rhode Island, AS220 Festival
Sept. 26th. Durham, NC, Duke University
Oct. 31st. Philadelphia, PA, International House Philadelphia, 3701 Chestnut street, PA 19104

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Wonderful Live Sun Ra Image

Pathways to Unknown Worlds Unreleased Recordings Setlist

Jungle Drums (electric piano and solovox, 1953)
Call My Baby (Jo Jo Adams, 1953, Ra arr.)
It's Raining Again (Joe Williams, 1953, Ra arr.)
Just Friends (1957, home)
Egyptian Scat (1956, Budland, w/Hattie Randolph)
Persian Rug (1956, Budland, w/Hattie Randolph)
Untitled (1956, live Budland)
Unreleased (Choreographers Workshop, 1961)
Wake Up America (for JFK) (Ra, celeste, w/Marshall Allen, voc., 1963)
My Children (1961, home)
Unknown Title (studio, 1957)
Celeste Solo (1963)
Miserlou (1955, w/Vernon Davis)
I've Forgotten (1961, Choreographers Workshop)
East Of The Sun (1955, Pat Patrick)
Truth Is Bad (1961, home)
Make Me Feel Good (1955, female vocal)
The Outers (unreleased, 1964 NYC)

June 10, 2009 Vision Festival Setlist

The Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen
June 10, 2009 Vision Festival
Abrons Arts Center, New York, NY


Take Off
Dreams Come True
Discipline 27-II (with cosmo drama segment including Space is the Place & If We Came from Nowhere Here)
Piano solo
? [1960s Sun Ra chart]
Millennium
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans
Cosmic Hop
Blue Set
In-B-Tween
Interplanetary Music
Fate in a Pleasant Mood
We Travel the Spaceways
Hit That Jive Jack

Marshall Allen - Musical Director, alto sax, flute, Electronic Valve
Instrument (EVI)
Yah Yah Abdul-Majid - tenor sax
Knoel Scott - alto sax
Danny Ray Thompson - baritone sax
Charles Davis - tenor sax
Rey Scott - baritone sax
Fred Adams - trumpet
Michael Ray - trumpet
Cecil Brooks - trumpet
Dave Davis - trombone, french horn, tuba
Dick Griffin - trombone
Dave Hotep - guitar
Bill Davis - bass
Juini Booth - bass
Farid Barron - piano
Billy Bang - violin
Wayne A. Smith, Jr. - drums
Art Jenkins - vocals, space megaphone
Elson Nascimento - surdo

More Bang for the Buck: Old Visionaries, New Jazz Venue By WILL FRIEDWALD [Wall Street Journal]













http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204482304574222124215081990.html

More Bang for the Buck: Old Visionaries, New Jazz Venue
By WILL FRIEDWALD
JUNE 13, 2009

The jazz season in New York has, for more than a decade, reached its climax in June and July, and until this year no less than three major festivals arrived in close succession—the Vision Festival, the JVC Jazz Festival and the 92nd Street Y’s Jazz in July series. If New York’s jazzfests resemble a three-ring circus, the center ring traditionally was occupied by the epic JVC Jazz Festival, a marathon two-week event built around well-known contemporary headliners (and even a few smooth jazz and pop stars). To the right was Jazz in July, where the emphasis is on swing and the songbook; to the left, Vision, which focuses on what is variously known as free jazz, experimental music or the avant-garde (none of these terms being entirely accurate).

Since 1996, Vision has been an ambitious annual gathering of musicians, dancers and visual artists that encompasses nearly 50 events over seven nights, and it is much more like a genuine festival—rather than a concert series—than either JVC or Jazz in July. It has consistently positioned itself as a scrappy alternative to the more formal programming at JVC (not to mention Jazz at Lincoln Center); there has never been big corporate sponsorship or even major record-label support. The tickets are easily affordable ($25 for a four-hour evening; www.visionfestival.org), and the shows—up to five in a single night—traditionally have taken place in basements, abandoned synagogues and other scruffy venues on the Lower East Side.

This year, with JVC canceled, there seemed to be a big black hole in the middle of the jazz-festival season, pulling Vision and Jazz in July slowly toward each other and the center. Something seemed amiss when I approached Vision’s new venue, the Abrons Art Center, and found it wasn’t a desecrated churchyard or the like, but a proper theater with a stage and even padded seats: Hearing free jazz in anything fancier than a metal folding chair somehow seems unspeakably bourgeois (if I can’t fold it, I ain’t sittin’ on it). Vision traditionally begins with an “opening invocation” that amounts to a free-jazz version of a New Orleans street parade up and down the aisles; this year it was notably stagebound and somewhat pointless.

Yet the music presented at Vision in its 14th season has, so far at least, been as irascible and antiestablishment as always—not to mention uncategorizable. It won’t do to call this experimental music, because while the major players presented regularly by Vision (starting with its co-founder, bassist William Parker) are always up for trying something new, they perfected their basic approach long ago. It’s not specifically avant-garde, since they’re not bent on creating a style that legions will adopt (in that sense, Wynton Marsalis’s signaling a return to hard bop in the 1980s was much more “avant-garde”). It’s no longer revolutionary, it doesn’t seek to put other kinds of jazz out of business, but it has become a stratum of the jazz (and even contemporary classical) world that is complete unto itself, with its own heroes, traditions and legacy that goes back before Ornette Coleman’s breakthrough “Shape of Jazz to Come” album of 50 years ago.

The stars of the first two nights were alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, director of the Sun Ra Arkestra and the recipient of the festival’s “Lifetime Recognition” award, and violinist-bandleader Billy Bang. This year, his group, Brass Bang, comprised three trumpets, trombone, drums and the leader’s fiddle. Mr. Bang succinctly demonstrated the possibilities of free playing: At the start, the music was playful, like children talking to each other using horns as voices; then it got loud and screechy, almost unbearably so—as avant-garde music is often inclined to get. For a finale, Mr. Bang caught us all off-guard (or even off-avant-garde): He and trumpeter James Zollar offered a unique interpretation of “Take the A Train” in which they seemed to re-create all the rules of music from the ground up, showing how the application of each step can lead to something as beautiful as the great works of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

Probably because of the appearance of the Ra Arkestra, the Abrons Center was packed Wednesday night—it’s a lot smaller than the previous venues. Mr. Allen, who, at age 85, is easily the grand old man of the avant-garde, was featured in a rare non-Ra outing with a small group consisting of two saxes (tenor saxophonist Kidd Jordan, the octogenarian free player, was the other), two basses (William Parker, Henry Grimes) and drummer Hamid Drake. In this music, there are no conventional notions of background and foreground, and every sound exists principally in relation to something else. Sometimes, it just seemed like a bunch of guys blowing their brains out; other times, the interaction between Mr. Allen and Mr. Jordan was wondrous to behold.

Mr. Allen’s vocabulary of shrieks and squawks and postmodern saxophonic wizardry was also evident in his set with the full Arkestra—the only ghost band with an original leader who was a supernatural entity to begin with. As always, the 18 members paraded out in Halloween costumes that looked like Mardi Gras on Mars, began with banshee-like howls and overblowing, but then, when they got down to business, created swinging and appealing big-band jazz. Their sloppy but engaging style is based on riffs, a shuffle beat and the blues. There are even familiar chord changes, as on an original pop-style song (“Dreams Come True”) that seemed based on the harmonies of “Jeepers Creepers.”

The Arkestra’s set provided the climax on Wednesday, not least because of Mr. Bang, who sat in with the big band, decked out like an interstellar gypsy. His solos here were perhaps even more passionate than with his own group, and while I’ve seen him look deadly serious in other contexts, here he was enjoying himself immensely—as was everybody in the Abrons Center. This music may have significant sociopolitical baggage attached to it, but it’s also just plain fun.

—Mr. Friedwald writes about jazz for the Journal.

Honoring One Man in 2 Guises By NATE CHINEN [nytimes.com]











http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/13/arts/music/13vision.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Marshall%20Allen&st=cse

Honoring One Man in 2 Guises
By NATE CHINEN
Published: June 12, 2009


The alto saxophonist Marshall Allen assumed two guises, earthly and celestial, at the Abrons Arts Center on Wednesday night. Appearing as the guest of honor at the 14th annual Vision Festival, he took the stage first in civilian attire, playing freely and fiercely in an aggressive all-star quintet. Later he re-emerged in the spangly vestments of his office — a sequined robe, a priestly hat — to conduct the famously otherworldly Sun Ra Arkestra in a performance that was more strictly codified but a great deal looser-limbed.

Mr. Allen, who turned 85 last month, has been a member of the Arkestra for more than 50 years: he joined the ensemble almost at its origins, spearheading its reed section and faithfully minding the various edicts of its namesake leader. When he took the helm himself in the mid-1990s, after the deaths of Sun Ra and the tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, Mr. Allen set his sights on continuity. He has kept the band together and working, with one eye trained on the legacy of an expressly future-oriented music.

It’s no wonder the Vision organizers chose to give Mr. Allen a lifetime recognition award. The festival, an artist-run nonprofit organization, convenes each year to celebrate the precise set of values that has animated his career. Recent editions of the event similarly honored veteran jazz iconoclasts who had served, at one time, as guardians of a social order. Last year’s recipient was Kidd Jordan, a tenor saxophonist and educator from New Orleans.

Mr. Jordan, 74, played alongside Mr. Allen during Wednesday’s first set, and the contrast was illuminating. Mr. Jordan has an old-fashioned tone in the meaty midregister of his horn, and he trawls his altissimo range with imploring exactitude.

Mr. Allen is much more of a flamethrower: he used his alto as a delivery system for searing, convulsive blasts, running his right hand fast and clawlike across the instrument’s keys. He also coaxed loopy frequencies from an electronic valve instrument, making use of a pitch-modulator knob; its timbre suggested a steelier, less vocal-sounding theremin.

The quintet otherwise featured Vision stalwarts: the bassist William Parker, the drummer Hamid Drake and the bassist Henry Grimes, who doubled on violin. They hurled themselves into the effort, expertly advancing the fervent strain of free jazz that has been this festival’s house style.

Strikingly, that style was largely absent from the Arkestra’s set, which followed an uneventful stand by a group led by Bill Cole, a strident specialist on East Asian double-reed instruments. Mr. Allen focused instead on the rhythmic side of the band’s repertory, featuring songs buoyed by swing and calypso rhythm; often there were snappily cosmic lyrics sung by Art Jenkins or other members of the band. (A few tunes, including “Millennium,” a recent staple by Mr. Allen, occasioned a full-band singalong.)

The Arkestra isn’t the spit-and-polish machine it once was, but its young rhythm section performed admirably, and there were vital contributions from the trumpeter Fred Adams and the tenor saxophonist Charles Davis, among others. More to the point, what the group as a whole delivered was a sensation of boisterous delight. Mr. Allen, with his seemingly boundless energy, had a lot to do with that.

The Vision Festival continues on the Lower East Side through Sunday at the Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, at Pitt Street, and on Monday at the Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts, 172 Norfolk Street; visionfestival.org.

Live At The Paradox Review By Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

SUN RA ARKESTRA Directed By MARSHALL ALLEN
Live At The Paradox, 2008 (In And Out 77098; Germany)
Recorded at the ZXZW Festival, Tilburg, The Netherlands, on Sept. 20th. 2008

M Allen alto sax, flute, clarinet, EVI; Charles Davis, YahYa Abdul Majid tenor saxes; Knoel Scott alto sax; Danny Thompson, Reynold Scott baritone saxes; Cecil Brooks, Fred Adams trumpets; Dave Davis trombone and tuba; Farid Barron piano and organ; Juni Booth doublebass; Dave Hotep guitar; Wayne Smith Jr drums; Elson Nascimento surdo and percussions.

“I had the good fortune to hear and see the Sun Ra Arkestra last night (6/10/09) at the 14th Annual Vision Fest and they were pretty amazing! This disc was recorded in September of 2008 and it captures the relatively same Arkestra in all of its glory. Commencing with Marshall’s “Space Walk” which features layers of EVI (electronic valve instrument), guitar, piano, occasional horns, bass and percussion, we are slowly heading out to outer space. What I dig about this is the way the Arkestra plays freely yet there is a lovely floating vibe that connects everyone into a cosmic dreamscape. “Discipline 27” has that incredible, magical riff that still stays with me and keeps me humming some thirty years after I first heard it at Soundscape in 1979. The version here is genuinely uplifting, and it segues into another favorite of mine “I’ll Wait for You” from the album ‘Strange Celestial Place’. The Arkestra plays these tunes with a jubilant, swinging spirit that is infectious and most of the horn players get a chance to solo throughout, often playing short, concise and powerful solos. Whether playing Sun Ra’s “Dreams Come True” or Fletcher Henderson’s “Hocus Pocus”, the band illustrates the long history of jazz (big bands!) that makes one feel so good. This recording was from a club in the Netherlands so we can hear folks talking quietly between the songs, which actually adds to homey ambiance. Marshall Allen wrote four of the nine songs here in the Sun Ra vein and plays some extraordinary solos as well. The Arkestra is particularly tight and festive moreso than the last time I caught them (quite a while ago). Considering the large amount of Sun Ra reissues and rarities that have been released over the past few years, it is great to hear some new Sun Ra Arkestra music that is as great as anything we’ve heard from the past! Space is the place indeed!”

- Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Sideman In The Limelight: Marshall Allen by Lars Gotrich [npr.org]
















http://www.npr.org/blogs/ablogsupreme/2009/06/a_sideman_in_the_limelight_mar.html

A Sideman In The Limelight: Marshall Allen
by Lars Gotrich

On Wednesday night, the 14th annual Vision Festival (one of the many New York jazz festivals still going on this summer) will honor saxophonist Marshall Allen with a Lifetime Achievement award.

Allen's an interesting case as he's not so much recognized for his own achievements, but the legacy he's carried on -- namely (and solely) that of Sun Ra. Allen traveled the outer spaceways for four decades leading the reed section of Sun Ra's Arkestra. In 1995, he took over its direction when tenor saxophonist John Gilmore passed away, who had picked up the reins when Sun Ra left planet Earth in 1993.

There's much to say for Allen's dedication. Sun Ra's vision was and is too big for this world. Just like the Mingus Big Band carries the torch for Charles Mingus, Allen ensures that the music of Sun Ra still breathes in concert venues, where that vision clearly thrives.

But Allen's individual contributions to free jazz both in and out of the Arkestra are worth note. His collaborations with percussionist Babatunde Olatunji mark some of the first free jazz/traditional African music fusions. And in various groups, he keeps a fire blowing with musicians like Kidd Jordan and fellow Philadelphian Elliott Levin.

Most of all, his pyrotechnic playing style is one that's been emulated times over. Allen told Tam Fiofori in a 1971 interview (later re-purposed for the essential book, As Serious As Your Life) that he "wanted to play on a broader sound basis rather than on chords." Watching and hearing this technique is like lightning and thunder: You see his fingers fly up and down his instrument, but only seem to catch the sound seconds later. For evidence, watch the clip from A Joyful Noise below, which the YouTube uploader correctly identifies as "Marshall Allen from Sun Ra goin' nuts."

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Marshall Allen Honored at Visions Festival on June 10th by Ronaldo Oregano [jazzpolice.com]



















http://www.jazzpolice.com/content/view/8348/117/

Marshall Allen Honored at Visions Festival on June 10th Written by Ronaldo Oregano Tuesday, 26 May 2009

“Allen has taken the Arkestra in new directions as its director, all the while maintaining his singular voice as one of the most distinguished altoists of his generation.” – Clifford Allen, All About Jazz

A member of the Sun Ra Arkestra for more than 50 years, and its director since 1995, 85-year-old multi-reed player Marshall Allen will receive the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Arts for Art and the Vision Festival. On Wednesday night, June 10th, Allen will perform two explosive sets of music with two unstoppable groups. In between, Bill Cole and his Untempered Ensemble will honor Allen’s creative majesty with a piece of music written especially for this night.

Marshall Allen has left an indelible stamp on The Sun Ra Arkestra’s body of work and the entire universe of improvised music. In special appearances outside of the Arkestra’s fold, this great musical legend has collaborated with everyone from the pianist Paul Bley to the percussionist Babatunde Olatunji. Born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1924, Allen began playing clarinet around the age of 10, inspired by the music of Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson. In 1942, at age 18, Allen joined the U.S. Army’s 92nd Infantry, also known as the “Buffalo Soldiers, and played in army marching bands and dance bands. While stationed in Europe, Allen worked with the pianist Art Simmons, jammed with Don Byas, and recorded with James Moody. During his army years, he also took up the alto saxophone.

Following his discharge from the army in 1949, Allen enrolled at the Paris Conservatory of Music, where he studied clarinet with Jacques Delecluse. In 1952, After returning to the U.S., he settled in Chicago, where he began composing and leading his own small groups. After hearing an early Sun Ra demo in 1957, Allen sought out and joined the band (then based in Chicago) in 1958.

“When I met [Sun Ra] he was talking about the Creator, and the bible, and the outer space, and the man on the moon, and all of that,” said Allen. “I’m saying ‘Damn! What is this? I came to play some music!’ But then, I didn’t play right way. He kept on talking about his philosophy, and history, and all that kind of stuff. He was a good conversationalist, so I was listening and listening ‘cause I wanted to get in the band. So I just hung around with him, he’s talking and talking, talking music and everything, …until finally he let me stand up by the piano and be in the band.”

Allen has remained with the Arkestra ever since, first leading the saxophone section with John Gilmore, and in 1995, taking over as director. Noted Corey Kilgannon in the New York Times, “[Allen] grew up admiring the styles of swing-era saxophonists like Johnny Hodges, Don Byas, Willie Smith and Earle Warren but eventually developed an avant-garde style, mastering overblowing techniques, false fingerings, note manipulations and extreme registers.”

Allen still shares the Philadelphia home with the members of the Arkestra, encouraging the same sense of community that Ra had fostered. “If you’re here, you got a place to practice 24 hours a day,” said Allen. “You can create, and you can get the spirit, and you can build a nice band. And then fulfill your own potential and your own career.” Allen sees it as his responsibility to preserve the music and philosophy of Ra and the Arkestra for future musicians and music fans. “I’m carrying it on, and keeping the spirit rolling, and keeping the music rolling. For the next generation, they wanna know what the last generation done, we got the music and things like that for them to see here. So we’re carrying on the tradition.”

In addition to the Arkestra, Allen has recorded with James Moody (1948-1949), Paul Bley (Barrage), Medeski, Martin and Wood (The Dropper), Alan Silva (HR57), Matmos (Supreme Balloon), Babatunde Olatunji (Olatunji), NRBQ’s Terry Adams (Terrible), and Phish’s Trey Anastasio (Surrender to the Air). As a leader, he released a pair on CIMP in 1998--Mark-n-Marshall: Monday and Mark-n-Marshall: Tuesday. Additionally, El Ra Records released two important Arkestra recordings under Marshall’s leadership: 2000’s A Song for the Sun and 2004’s Music For the 21st Century. His most recent work has included small groups: a quintet with William Parker, Alan Silva, Kidd Jordan and Hamid Drake; duos and quartet with Henry Grimes; and performances with John Medeski, Weasel Walter, and Chromatic Mysteries.

“The music makes you cry, and the music makes you happy, the music can do a lot of things to you,” said Allen. “If you’re sick, the music can make you well. The music can take your mind off a lot of worries and stress. So we use all of that, because people need it and so do we. If I do the music for my well-being, and it works, I can give you some, too. So it’s a constant thing, you can’t own the music, and the legacy of Sun Ra, like other great musicians, is that he left beautiful music for us to study and enjoy and improve on.”

The celebration honoring Marshall Allen will take place on June 10th at Abrons Art Center, starting off with a special set led by Marshall Allen (reeds), with Kidd Jordan (tenor sax), William Parker (bass), Henry Grimes (bass and violin) and Hamid Drake (drums). Bill Cole’s Untempered Ensemble follows, and the evening will close with Allen leading the Sun Ra Arkestra with special guests Billy Bang and John Ore.

Abrons Art Center is located at 466 Grand Street, New York City. Visions Festival tickets are $25 per night in advance / $30 day of show / $150 for a full festival pass, on sale now at Abrons Art Center at http://www.henrystreet.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AAC_PERF_future or 866-811-4111. The celebration for Marshall Allen gets underway at 7:30 pm on June 10th.

This article based on a press released compiled by Bradley Farberman.

VISION FESTIVAL 14



















http://www.henrystreet.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AAC_PERF_future

VISION FESTIVAL 14

June 9 & 10 | 7:30PM
June 11, 12 & 13 | 7PM

June 14 | 5PM


In its 14th year running, The Vision Festival is New York’s only summer jazz festival in 2009. It presents innovative music, art, dance and poetry. VF14’s highlights include performances by Marshall Allen and The Sun Ra Arkestra, Peter Br√∂tzmann’s Full Blast, Roy Campbell’s Ayler Project, Milford Graves Quartet, Fred Anderson Trio, Zim Ngqawana, Douglas Ewart, Matthew Shipp, Ernest Dawkins’ New Horizons Ensemble, William Parker Quartet, Joe McPhee’s Trio X, Lisa Sokolov Trio, Jason Kao Hwang’s Spontaneous River (A 25 piece string ensemble), Lawrence “Butch” Morris conduction of poetry and strings, and William Hooker’s live score to Oscar Micheaux’s “Symbol of the Unconquered” (1920). This year’s festival honors a lifetime of achievement by Marshall Allen.

Advance $25 At Door $30 Full Festival Pass $150

MEGAPHONE A Universe of Achievement by Marshall Allen [ALL ABOUT JAZZ—NEW YORK June 2009 11]

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/newyork/

ALL ABOUT JAZZ—NEW YORK
June 2009 11

MEGAPHONE
A Universe of Achievement
by Marshall Allen

It feels good to be receiving this Lifetime Achievement Award at the Vision Festival this month. Whenever somebody achieves something worthy, it’s great to be recognized for it. The musicians who have received this award in the past include people that I have performed with, know and respect. I have received things like this before, like the Bluebird Award in Germany and some honorary mentions, but this award means a lot. The years have gone by so fast. It seems like yesterday when I first joined the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1958. It is amazing that 51 years have passed. When I stop and think about it, it is like... Damn! When Sun Ra was on the planet, I composed melodies. Every once in awhile, Sun Ra would play one of them. But I mostly put those compositions aside, since we all were focusing on what Sun Ra was doing. After Sun Ra left the planet, I decided to get those melodies together, the ones that everyone liked, and form a book of them. I have 100 or so of these; eight to ten are now in the current Sun Ra Arkestra book. And then there are the things where I redid arrangements on some of Sun Ra’s original charts. Sun Ra influenced me so much with the way he wrote - always making it better or different. And now I, like Sun Ra did, write charts for specific musicians. So, when I get the melody book out, I work on it, put it down for a while, get it back out and use lyrics as a base for developing some of these compositions. Art Jenkins [vocalist and percussionist in the Arkestra] has helped in writing lyrics for these melodies, Arkestra trumpeter Michael Ray has also written some lyrics and Joe Holley, who is a guitar player and friend of mine, has done two or three lyrics like “Millennium”, which is on the Arkestra’s latest CD titled Live At The Paradox on the In & Out label. I usually tell the lyricists what the chart is about and turn them loose to write the melody. My priorities are to keep the Sun Ra Arkestra music alive, the band playing and writing and arranging lead sheets and chords that can develop into future compositions. It is wonderful to have the Arkestra perform again at the Vision Festival. I just try to be creative, letting the spirit take over and play, letting it go and using the vibrations on whatever song it is to play the way I feel and to accompany the overall sound. I use sound to keep me balanced and to give others some good. I still enjoy playing and continue to find it a challenge. I don’t think about it, I just do it, just do the sound. Since 1995, when I started leading the Arkestra after John Gilmore left the planet, I had to get real busy, getting worked out how the Arkestra should play. On some arrangements, I added stuff, including space for freeform, which opens a door into my arrangements and makes it a little different every time we play it. Then I put my thing into each song every time we play it and that keeps things moving forward. I like what I’m doing now. I have to do it the way I have been taught by Sun Ra, since I don’t know everything and the thing is to find which way to go next. Then you can end up doing whatever without thinking about it too much. It was always a challenge to understand what Sun Ra wanted to get out of the members of the Arkestra. Being free, playing the right things at the right time were issues. If you are at a particular spot, you are there. You can think about that, the bandmembers know the music, but then you have to play what you know and what you don’t know. Some days you can be sharp, other days you have to coast. But, to get through all the rehearsals, you can’t worry too much. You take what you have and make the best of it and, above all, keep moving! Rehearsals continue to be important within the Arkestra. I had that drilled into me for 35 years by Sun Ra! You must rehearse to make the team coordinate and feel each other - to do it a certain way. We all do it together in the Arkestra, allowing for individual interpretation. The freeform and solos and the backgrounds are not charted out, so you must rehearse so that you can put the right stuff in each chart together as a band. And you got to keep up with it. Looking back at all of this, the Vision Festival Lifetime Achievement Award is nice for myself; it is so kind for them to acknowledge me. It is wonderful for this to be part of my mission to better the planet and the people through beautiful music. When we are able to give the audience one or two hours to forget their worries, it sure helps. And the music can help transform everyone to a higher plane of being and bring different vibrations that affect others and myself. Bring well being, give something to someone else so that they can get something out it. There is always happiness in the spirit of playing and we look forward to sharing the Arkestra sounds with the people at the Vision Festival.

For more information, visit elrarecords.com/ma.html.

Allen performs at Vision Festival Jun. 10th and will be honored with the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award. Allen is also at Zebulon Jun. 7th. Allen has led the Sun Ra Arkestra reed section for over 40 years and was a pioneer of the ‘60s avant garde jazz movement. Allen was one of the first jazz musicians to play traditional African music and has appeared with such diverse groups as Phish, Sonic Youth, NRBQ and Medeski Martin & Wood.