Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reclaiming Sun Ra's Legacy



An excellent story by my friend Jim Knipfel about Sun Ra's posthumous legacy, posted at The Believer. The article discusses at length the work I've been doing since late 2013 administering and sorting out Ra's convoluted catalog and rights conflicts on behalf of Sun Ra LLC, the heirs of Herman Poole Blount. Pictured above: administrator and his "boss," Thomas Jenkins, Jr. (a.k.a. "Capt. T"), son of Ra's older sister Mary and patriarch of the family. Photo snapped Nov. 22, 2014, outside the Jenkins home in Powder Springs, Georgia.

From the article:
"Thomas—a man I love and admire for his diligence, humor, and strength of character—explained to me the parade of unscrupulous characters who, after Ra's departure, emerged from the shadows to assert rights without lawful claims. Jenkins provided conclusive, documented proof of chain-of-title on Ra's rights for Sun Ra LLC, as well as a chronicle of dubious, and in some cases provably fraudulent, claims by those who felt entitled to a financial stake in Sunny's artistic legacy. And when I say financial stake, I should add, such as it was. Ra died impoverished, and owed the IRS—are you ready?—$146,799.95." 
Chusid admits he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he agreed to step inside Sun Ra’s universe to try and sort a few things out.  “I did it to help Michael [D. Anderson], because he asked,” he says in retrospect. “I did not comprehend the scope of the task ahead and had no idea where it would lead. To be honest, I foresaw a tremendous expenditure of time and labor without any prospect of making it profitable. Just about every project I've developed—Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Jim Flora, Langley Schools, Shooby Taylor, outsider music—started as a labor of love, a challenge, something that intrigued me, and that was grounded on a unique artistic legacy that appealed to me. It was that way with Sun Ra. He's one of the great, unsung musical geniuses of the 20th century—easily dismissed as a crackpot or a charlatan by those who barely know his music. And if all you know is 'Space is the Place,' you don't know his music."

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sun Ra Arkestra New 2017 Summer - Fall USA Dates via Drusdow

Sun Ra Arkestra New 2017 Summer - Fall USA Dates via Drusdow

The Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen after concluding its second 2017 European Tour has nine new USA dates on its calendar with performances in Lowell, MA, Durkee, OR, Greensboro, NC, New York, NY, Baltimore, MD, Philadelphia, PA, and Brooklyn, NY.  With the previously announced four dates in San Francisco, CA, the band will be making thirteen USA performances running from July 29, 2017 to October 19, 2017.

The upcoming Arkestra 2017 World Tour dates in the USA range from free concerts at two folk festivals in Lowell, MA and Greensboro, NC to a four day landing at a theater in San Francisco, CA to an outdoor eclipse festival in Oregon to a benefit for the Arkestra in NYC to a return visit to a jazz club in Baltimore, MD to a new jazz festival in Philadelphia, PA where the band will perform "Space Is The Place" in its entirety to the Arkestra's headlining the BRIC Jazz Festival in Brooklyn, NY.

Marshall Allen, as Musical Director of the Arkestra, is now in his 59th year of continuous activity within the Sun Ra Arkestra. Marshall has been in the Arkestra 22 years longer than Sun Ra himself, as he continues moving forward at light speed while the Arkestra travels the spaceways.

On July 24, 2017, Marshall Allen was an honoree at the 2nd Annual Jazz Legacy Awards ceremony hosted by PA State Senator Vincent Hughes & Sheryl Lee Ralph-Hughes at the Clef Club in Philadelphia, PA.  There were six other world renowned Philadelphia jazz honorees who were recognized at this event.  Sun Ra Arkestra vocalist Tara Middleton gave Marshall an introductory tribute and presented him with his Jazz Legacy Award.

In the 65th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll, The Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen came in 5th in the Big Band category.  This is the best result for the Arkestra in the DownBeat Critics Poll since Sun Ra left the planet.  Ahead of the Sun Ra Arkestra were the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, Carla Bley with Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

The current concert itinerary of the Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen is:

Saturday, July 29, 2017 - Lowell Folk Festival, Dutton Street Dance Pavilion, Lowell, MA - Free Show at 7:30 pm

Sunday, July 30, 2017 - Lowell Folk Festival, Dutton Street Dance Pavilion, Lowell, MA - Free Show at 3:00 pm

Thursday, August 3, 2017 - SF Jazz, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA - Show at 7:30 pm

Friday, August 4, 2017 - SF Jazz, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA - Show at 7:30 pm

Saturday, August 5, 2017 - SF Jazz, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA - Show at 7:30 pm

Sunday, August 6, 2017 - SF Jazz, Miner Auditorium, 201 Franklin St., San Francisco, CA - Show at 7:30 pm

Sunday, August 20, 2017 - Eclipse Festival, Durkee, OR - Show Time TBA

Saturday, September 9, 2017 - National Folk Festival, Greensboro, NC - Free Show, Show Time TBA

Sunday, September 10, 2017 - National Folk Festival, Greensboro, NC - Free Show, Show Time TBA

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 - Ukrainian National Home, 140 2nd Ave, 2nd Floor, New York, NY - Show at 7:00 pm

Friday, September 15, 2017 - Ottobar, 2549 N. Howard St., Baltimore, MD - Doors at 7:00 pm & Show at 8:00 pm

Thursday, October 5, 2017 - The October Revolution, Fringe Arts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia, PA - Show Time TBA

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - BRIC Jazz Fest, BRIC Arts | Media House, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn, NY - Show at 7:30 pm
                                       
All 2017 Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen 2017 World Tour dates continue to be in support of the "Babylon Live" CD release on the In + Out Record label. This CD was recorded live at the Babylon club in Istanbul, Turkey on May 21, 2014 during the first of four 2014 Sun Ra Centennial Arkestra European tours.


For additional information about Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen performances, including venue weblinks, please click on the "Tourdates" tab of the Sun Ra Arkestra website. Booking information for the Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen is available by clicking on the "Info" tab of the Sun Ra Arkestra website, which is located at: http://www.sunraarkestra.com

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sun Ra Arkestra 2017 Tour Concert Dates

FOR RELEASE MARCH 18, 2017
By Greg Drusdow

The Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen launches its 2017 World Tour today with its first European tour of the year featuring landings in The Netherlands, Belgium, England, and Italy with eleven performances running from March 18 to April 3, 2017.

The Arkestra's 2017 World Tour will continue after the European tour concludes with seven USA dates with the band doing concerts in Washington, D. C., Brooklyn, NY, and San Francisco, CA.

Marshall Allen, as Musical Director of the Arkestra, is now in his 59th year of continuous activity within the Sun Ra Arkestra. Marshall has been in the Arkestra 22 years longer than Sun Ra himself, as he continues moving forward at light speed while the Arkestra travels the spaceways.

The current concert itinerary of the Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen is:

Saturday, March 18, 2017 - Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - Het Depot, Leuven, Belgium.

Friday, March 24, 2017 - Bimhuis, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 - Con Club, Lewes (near Brighton), England.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - Con Club, Lewes (near Brighton), England.

Thursday, March 30, 2017 - Con Club, Lewes (near Brighton), England.

Friday, March 31, 2017 - Union Chapel, London, England.

Saturday, April 1, 2017 - The Wardrobe, Leeds, England.

Sunday, April 2, 2017 - Band on the Wall, Manchester, England.

Monday, April 3, 2017 - Sala Paradiso, San Lazzaro Di Savena (near Bologna), Italy.

Saturday, May 6, 2017 - African American Civil War Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Saturday, June 10, 2017 - Union Pool, Brooklyn, NY.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 - Logan Fringe Arts Space, Washington, D.C.

Thursday, August 3, 2017 - SF Jazz, San Francisco, CA.

Friday, August 4, 2017 - SF Jazz, San Francisco, CA.

Saturday, August 5, 2017 - SF Jazz, San Francisco, CA.

Sunday, August 6, 2017 - SF Jazz, San Francisco, CA.

All 2017 Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen 2017 World Tour dates continue to be in support of the "Babylon Live" CD release on the In + Out Record label. This CD was recorded live at the Babylon club in Istanbul, Turkey on May 21, 2014 during the first of four 2014 Sun Ra Centennial Arkestra European tours.

For additional information about Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen performances, including venue weblinks, please click on the "Tourdates" tab of the Sun Ra Arkestra website. Booking information for the Sun Ra Arkestra Directed by Marshall Allen is available by clicking on the "Info" tab of the Sun Ra Arkestra website, which is located at:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sun Ra Arkive Book Review: Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary by Bill Banfield

Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary by Bill Banfield, 
Rowman and Littlefield.
Bill Banfield's 2016 book, "Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary," chronicles the largely unsung, but massively important, jazz performer's life, times, music and philosophy. Published by Rowman and Littlefield, this 140 page hardcover includes previously unseen photographs and is a welcome addition to the existing core bibliography of excellent Sun Ra related books.

Of all of the beloved stalwart Sun Ra Arkestra members - from John Gilmore to Marshall Allen and June Tyson - none has received their own biography to date. Laurdine "Pat" Patrick is perhaps the most qualified first subject for his own book, because he had such a long, diverse and independent life outside of Sun Ra's sphere.

Now Bill Banfield, currently Director of the Center for Africana studies and professor at the Berklee College of Music, gives focus to Pat Patrick's fascinating life with his book that draws from diverse sources such as historical reportage, interviews with family and peers, excerpts from Patrick's journals and the extensive lists he kept of his professional accomplishments.

@accbillbanfield
For long time devotees of Patrick's robust and expressive baritone saxophone playing that always wanted to know more about the person and his work, Banfield's book illustrates a well-rounded and complex picture of the soft-spoken musician's life and greatly expands our understanding of the man. By letting the source material speak for itself, Banfield doesn't bring his personal agenda to the subject, allowing readers to have their own unique emotional experience and interpretation.

"Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary" provides an insightful cultural perspective of the artist's times as an educated, thoughtful and principled African-American artist in the 20th century. The author gives context to the societal obstructions and aspirations Patrick gave uncompromising - yet graceful - voice to through his work, while always maintaining pride and humanity.

Through interviews with Patrick's family, the book tells the unflinching story of the affects his life choices had, and the emotional and philosophical lessons his children learned from them. Professor Banfield gives space to their individual stories and lets their words speak for themselves without imposing his own interpretation.

The young Laurdine "Pat" Patrick from Bill Banfield's "Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary"
For the first time in print, aspects of Patrick's career that were previously unchronicled are collected. Apart from it's human story, it is the book's most substantial contribution to Sun Ra scholarship. From the Pat Patrick Band's 7" single of "I Ain't Done Nothing To You" backed with "Hot Springs," the Andrew Hill Combo's 45 featuring Pat's composition "Down Pat," and Coleman Hawkins' performance of Patrick's "A Tune For The Tutor," to his compositions and performances with Mongo Santamaria, Johnny Zamot and James Moody, discovering these songs for the first time may be the greatest joy listeners will get from this story.

Devoted Sun Ra fans will likely approach this book hoping for a focus on Pat's time with the Arkestra and previously unheard stories. However, the book takes a different perspective and seeks to provide a more complete appreciation of the human being himself, not only as a member of Sun Ra's band. Ironically by not meeting preconceived expectations, it greatly exceeds them, offering a pleasantly surprising read and a far deeper learning experience.

Bill Banfield's "Pat Patrick: American Musician and Cultural Visionary" is highly recommended, and will hopefully bring further public attention to Pat Patrick's recorded work and Berklee College of Music collection.

- Christopher Eddy, Sun Ra Arkive

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Review: Pat Patrick & The Baritone Saxophone Retinue "Sound Advice" 2015 Art Yard Records

Pat Patrick and The Baritone Saxophone Retinue "Sound Advice" Art Yard Records Front Cover

This album is a must-own release for students of Sun Ra, not as a rarity, but as a bonafide part of the cannon.

Side A:
Stablemates (Intro)
Funny Time
Uptightedness
Eastern Vibrations
Side B:
Sabia
East Of Uz
The Waltz
Stablemates, pt. II

The 1977 LP release of Pat Patrick and The Baritone Saxophone Retinue's "Sound Advice" has always been a rare and sought after release for hardcore Sun Ra collectors. So rare in fact that for the last 25 years the only copy I ever heard was from a cassette dubbed by one of the lucky few owners of this unique and thoroughly compelling album.

This represents Laurdine "Pat" Patrick's only full-length release as a co-leader, along with the Arkestra's Charles Davis, as well as the The Baritone Saxophone Retinue's single recording. Patrick had released just one previous 7" single under his own name - "I Ain't Done Nothin' To You," backed with "Hot Springs" - on the Aladdin Records label in 1955. 

In addition to his almost 40 year association as the second original member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Patrick co-wrote the #1 hit "Yeh Yeh" (Mongo SantamarĂ­a, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames) and arranged Mongo SantamarĂ­a's Top 10 hit version of the Herbie Hancock composition "Watermelon Man," and played as a sideman with John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Babatunde Olatunji.

It seems significant that "Sound Advice" was originally released by Sun Ra's label, El Saturn Records. Other than 1968's "I Wish I Had A Wishing Ring" by Lacy Gibson, it is the only other release of the 100 plus titles in Sun Ra's catalog that didn't have Sun Ra's direct involvement as a performer or arranger.

For me, the significance is that this record feels like a long-lost Arkestra release. Live lo-fi recording? Check. An obscure previously unreleased Sun Ra 50's compositions called "East of Uz?" Check. Pressed in super-small quantities and impossible to find? Check. Spirited, sophisticated, and wildly swinging jazz that sounds like nothing else? Double check!

The fact that this album was recorded and released in the 1970s is puzzling. Compounded by the slightly removed far-away sonics of what appears to be a 2-channel stereo microphone recording, "Sound Advice" sounds like walking into a Chicago night spot in the late 1950s and opening the door on Sun Ra's Arkestra itself. The songs, the arrangements and the melodic and harmonic content all conjure the sound of the vintage Arkestra. 

If you put this side-by-side with Atavistic's release of "Music From Tomorrow's World," recorded live at Chicago's Wonder Inn, in a blind listening test, you'd be hard pressed to not think it was possibly the same band if you didn't know any better.

This album is a must-own release for students of Sun Ra, not as a rarity, but as a bonafide part of the cannon. It makes me reassess how important and influential the original members of the Arkestra - like Pat Patrick - were to the overall personality of the band. Sun Ra was - of course - the leader, but I think that history has severely underestimated the importance and influence the individual musicians had on the music's magic and power.

One might think that a horn section made up of entirely baritone saxophones - with a touch of flutes - might be a novelty, but rest assured it is not gimmicky, but visionary. In fact, it's the most exciting baritone playing I've ever heard on record. The tight, swinging drum and bass accompaniment gives the band solid momentum and support, with the piano providing beautiful counterpoint and some great solos. The baritones are arranged with breadth and variety, and not boomy or squonky.

Art Yard Records did an incredibly admirable job with their 2015 release on LP and CD, as they have done with every single one of their releases. They were clearly working with a pretty clean vinyl copy as their master, but it is the best I've ever heard the album sound and a welcome replacement to the tape and CD-R copies most collectors have had access to in the past. The mastering is tasteful, with a light musical touch, and doesn't have audible artifacts of heavy-handed compression or de-noising.

Special kudos should be given for the limited-edition vinyl edition with sumptuous hand silk-screened artwork by L. Todd/House Of Traps, complete with double-sided inner sleeve notes and inner and outer poly sleeves. It is one of, if not THE, most beautiful and artistic record jackets in my collection. It makes the album feel as special and precious as it truly is.

- Christopher Eddy, Sun Ra Arkive


Pat Patrick & The Baritone Saxophone Retinue "Sound Advice" Art Yard Records Back Cover


Here's what Art Yard's Peter Dennett has to say about the release in an interview for FactMag:

Q: That record was something of a holy grail in the Ra catalogue, and you’ve also managed to unearth another huge piece which is set for release soon, right?

A: Yes! Recently I’ve signed some contracts with Deval Patrick, the governor of Massachusetts. His father, Pat Patrick, was one of the main players with Sun Ra, and also worked with John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk. He wrote music with Mongo Santamaria, the song ‘Yeh, Yeh!’” is a famous example. There is a record that he wrote that came out on El Saturn around 1980, that is now going on Ebay for 2500 dollars, which is just crazy.

So anyway I’ve set this thing up with the estate of Pat Patrick, and that record will come out properly later this year. It’s already been bootlegged, a year and a half ago, by someone in Europe I think, they were selling the bootlegs for between 170 pounds and 250 pounds – they must have made tens of thousands just by selling 100 records or so. So this is the thing, it’s about getting that music back out there into the world, doing it the proper way – I’m looking forward to putting that out properly.


Pat Patrick & The Baritone Saxophone Retinue

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sun Ra Arkive Hartmut Geerken Interviewed by Suso Navarrete 01/2003

Hartmut Geerken's original 1994 book "Omniverse Sun Ra" was the first piece of substantial printed Sun Ra scholarship I saw - around the time Robert Campbell's "Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra Volume 1" was released too. Between these books, the Evidence CD reissues and the VHS reissue of the film "Space Is The Place" in 1995, it was a bountiful time to be a student of Sun Ra's recorded HIStory/MYstory.

It was a thing of wonder; large, beautiful, well-researched and a power source to hold and read. As a small-run independently published book it was expensive too. As I remember, around $100 USD, which was way too out-of-reach for a young hippie like me. Luckily my Sun Ra teacher had a copy, and I would humbly ask to look at it, as though I were handling some ancient and priceless scrolls. At least that's how it felt at the time.

My friend Suso Navarrete interviewed Hartmut Geerken for Sun Ra Arkive in January 2003. He arranged the entire thing, and to this day, I have never had any direct contact with Mr. Geerken. But, I would like to sincerely thank him for all he has shared with the Sun Ra community, as well as a "hello" to my long-lost friend Suso, who I lost track of many years ago. We had a fun and productive run together!

"Omniverse Sun Ra" eventually went out of print and commanded insane prices - several hundred dollars at least - on the secondary market for about 20 years. The author maintained that he would never reprint and the book became more and more of a sought after power source as time proceeded.

Thankfully, "Omniverse Sun Ra" was revised by by Hartmut Geerken and Chris Trent and reprinted in hardcover by Art Yard Limited on November 30, 2015. It's available from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Omniverse-Hartmut-Geerken-Chris-Trent/dp/0993351409
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