Thursday, 23 February 2017
Sun Ra Arkestra play Leeds Wardrobe
From Leeds Inspired
Operating under the direction of saxophonist Marshall Allen - who celebrated his 90th year in 2014. With such a massive, joyous songbook and the kind of well organised chaos that sees their legendary 3 hour sets move deftly between rolling grooves, sing-along chants and atonal blasts of mischievous brass, the Arkestra remain one of the most unmissable live acts today.
“By the time that the show winds to a close, the audience joining in call-and-response style, The Arkestra snaking through the audience in their traditional procession, honking, clapping, chanting and leading the way along the path that leads to the stars, the roof has lifted off Oto. During the band’s first decade, in response to a criticism that Sun Ra was “too far out”, that other legend of the piano, Thelonious Monk, famously replied, “Yeah, but it swings.” Even a half century later, how right he was.” – David Solomons, Freq, review of the Sun Ra Arkestra at Cafe OTO, 2013.
Sun Ra was one of the greatest and least known jazz artists of the last four decades, whose influence on diverse musicians is little known to the general public. A pianist and band leader, his style ranged from retro swing to avant free, and often in the same piece. His band could play a swinging Gershwin tune and almost imperceptibly soar into their free cosmic equational tones as if they possessed a single mind.
Ra was a keyboard improviser of great originality, but his foremost talent was for inspiring and teaching creative musicians to improvise freely but together. This tension between freedom and coherence was something he explored with abundant energy and skill.
Sun Ra died in 1993. The Arkestra performs today, under the direction of alto saxophonist Marshall Allen.
Sun Ra Arkestra
Leeds. Saturday, 01 Apr 2017