Saturday, May 25, 2024

Saturn Day Sun: Marshall Allen 100


Sun Ra Arkestra - Love In Outer Space

We'll end the month in the grandest possible style, with the first centennial I've ever posted on where the person is not only still alive, but constitutes a still-viable creative force in the world even at that advanced age.
I keep wanting these cats to form a band, all the over-90s form their own gang with Roy Haynes on drums, Sonny Rollins on tenor and this guy on alto.
His mentor -- who'd have been 110 three days ago -- has been gone over 30 years now, but don't tell our hero of heroes here, who's ever since been carrying the flame of the music and philosophy of Sun Ra forward into the current millennium as if nothing was amiss whatsoever.
I guess we could say Marshall Allen -- born this day in 1924 and still, somehow, playing gigs all over the world -- has been a pretty significant success as CEO of Outer Spaceways, Inc.
It takes a lot to leave a loudmouth such as I speechless, but this guy summons adjectives that just kind of land where they are, like "unbelievable" and "unprecedented".
I mean, you lead one of the most beloved bands in Jazz history into your hundreds??? What the actual fuzz! They just don't make them like Marshall anymore.
For me, it isn't just that he's still around and playing, that would be insane and stunning enough.
It's that what is still coming out of his horn is as fresh as what someone a third or less of his age might supply. That, my friends, is the kicker.
I saw our centenary sire play live once -- no, twice! -- once at a benefit at the Village Vanguard for Sun Ra's medical expenses back in the early 1990s, and once at Central Park Summerstage in NYC... that was when Sun Ra was still alive and the Arkestra opened for Sonic Youth! For free! Again that adjective of "unbelievable" rears its hyperbolic head.
What do you do for an occasion such as this? Most humans get nowhere near the 100 mark, much less Jazz musicians after a lifetime of recording, touring and surviving and so forth.
I'm sorry, I just can't get my mind over how someone of this vintage leads a huge band that people are invested in for decades upon decades, and handles the touring and musical logistics and so on for the thing as its acknowledged leader and arbiter. I'm past "unbelievable" and 'unprecedented" and I'm afraid I'm headed for "utterly astonishing" territory.
Anyway in a blog page that emphasizes milestone birthdays I dunno I'll ever detail one as milestone as today's, so in honor of Marshall Allen's unquantifiable achievements I have endeavored to introduce three different broadcasts of the Arkestra into audiological circulation. Of course I could put up commonly circulating things, but what fun would that be? And what would that do to distinguish today's guy from all the others? So let's get way down with a deep triple play from the planet Saturn.
The Sun Ra Arkestra
under the direction of Marshall Allen

Nancy Jazz Pulsations 2009
Nancy, France

01 Space Idol
02 Millennium
03 Big John's Special
04 Dreams Come True
05 Wish Upon a Star
06 Velvet
07 medley: It's After the End of the World/I'll Wait for You/Space Is the Place/Greetings from the 21st Century
08 unidentified title
09 In Between/We Travel the Spaceways incl. band intros

Total time: 1:01:38

Marshall Allen - alto saxophone, flute, EVI & vocals
Michael Ray - trumpet & vocals
Fred Adams - trumpet
Knoel Scott - alto saxophone & vocals
Reynold Scott - flute, alto & baritone saxophones
Dave Davis - trombone
Elson Nascimento - percussion
Juni Booth - bass
Farid Barron - keyboards
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr. - drums
Dave Hotep - guitar

256/48k audio extracted from a DVD of digital satellite broadcast
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, edited & remastered by EN, May 2024
431 MB FLAC/link below

A38 Hajó
Buda Bridgehead
Budapest, Hungary

01 You'll Find Me
02 unidentified title
03 Somewhere/Greetings from the 21st Century/No Hiding Place Down Here
04 Nuclear War
05 Interplanetary medley: Second Stop Is Jupiter/We Travel the Spaceways/Journey to Saturn/Next Stop Mars
06 Hit that Jive, Jack outro & fade

Total time: 49:21

Marshall Allen - alto saxophone, flute, EVI & vocals
Fred Adams - trumpet
Michael Ray - trumpet & vocals
Dave Davis - trombone
Knoel Scott - alto saxophone & vocals
Yah Yah Abdul-Majid - tenor saxophone
Charles Davis - tenor saxophone
Danny Ray Thompson - baritone saxophone, flute & vocals
Dave Hotep - guitar
Juni Booth - bass
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr. - drums
Elson Nascimento - percussion

384/48k audio extracted from a DVD of a digital satellite broadcast of an event broadcast from a ship anchored in harbor
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, edited & remastered by EN, May 2024
355 MB FLAC/link below

Livingston Studios
London, UK

01 Marshall Allen interview + introduction
02 Queer Notions
03 Sun Ra speaks
04 Space Chord
05 Wish Upon a Star
06 Saturn
07 Sun Ra speaks
08 Love In Outer Space
09 Dancing Shadows
10 Swirling incl. Sun Ra speaks
11 Sun Ra speaks
12 Discipline 27b
13 Sun Ra speaks
14 Angels and Demons At Play
15 Enlightenment

Total time: 1:19:57

Marshall Allen - alto saxophone, EVI & vocals
Tara Middleton - vocals & violin
Knoel Scott - alto saxophone, percussion & vocals
Charles Davis - tenor saxophone
Shabaka Hutchings - tenor saxophone & bass clarinet
Danny Ray Thompson - baritone saxophone, percussion & vocals
Cecil Brooks - trumpet
Vincent Chancey - French horn
Dave Davis - trombone
Farid Barron - piano & keyboards
Dave Hotep - guitar
Tylor Mitchell - bass
Elson Nascimento - percussion
Stanley Morgan - percussion
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr. - drums

preFM capture, of indeterminate origin, of the 2014 BBC3 "Jazz On 3" broadcast honoring the centennial of Sun Ra & the 90th birthday of Marshall Allen
repaired & remastered -- with dead air very slightly trimmed to fit a single CD -- by EN, May 2024
first aired 6.30.2014
513 MB FLAC/direct link to all 3 shows in one folder
That's 3 hours and 10 minutes in testimony to what makes Marshall Allen as extraordinary a player and a person as I will ever cover here. Me? I'm already figuring out June, and I'm gonna try to make it as badass as May.

But I wanted to close out the month with an extra special tribute to an extra special cat, so I hope you'll receive it in that exact spirit as we celebrate the incredibly superlative centennialist Marshall Allen. Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta get Charles Lloyd and Roy Haynes -- he better stay alive til 2025, cuz he's next on the 100 list! -- on the phone and finish assembling my 90+ Superband!!!--J.

It's after the end of the world.
Don't you know that yet?

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Art for Art's Sake


Art Pepper Quartet - Yours Is My Heart Alone

We're brightening Sunday with the first anniversary post in a long time, stuck in birthday land as I have been since March.

How I've never covered this dude before, in 10 1/2 years of this page, I can't say. It's an awful lie of omission, and it changes today.

Did anyone see the HBO documentary series about Synanon? This guy was in it for a quarter of a second.

As notorious for his heroin-related jail stints in San Quentin as he was for music, today's honoree achieved his goal of dying as the world's foremost alto saxophonist.

He's gone 42 years now, can you believe that?

Having been raised by his abusive and alcoholic asshole parents before being exiled to grandma's, he was able to rip hearts from chests from a tender age, using only his trusty sax.

Another of those rare players we laud on here -- the ones that you know it's them after a single note or phrase -- he's as beloved and as influential on Jazz as he ever was.

There's this other music blog I frequent, and half the posts are of him, or at least it seems that way.

He's a little like Lee Morgan, in that he featured astonishing technique coupled with a sophisticated but universally basic and translatable emotional quality. Usually it is one or the other, but the rare cats have both.

The poor guy only made it to 56 -- drugs and traveling made sure of that -- but in the sense that matters his music is eternal and he can never die.

Take as an exemplar this delicious, full concert France Musique (FM for short) rebroadcast a couple of years ago, recorded in Paris in 1981 at the end of dude's run.

That's the thing about Art Pepper: no matter what sort of pharmaceutical depredations he put himself through, his playing never suffered.

Art Pepper Quartet
Espace Cardin
Paris, France

01 Ophelia
02 Mambo Koyama
03 Here's That Rainy Day
04 Landscape
05 Yours Is My Heart Alone
06 Avalon
07 Patricia
08 Rhythm-A-Ning
09 That’s Love

Total time: 1:45:20
disc break goes after Track 05

Art Pepper - alto saxophone & clarinet
Milcho Leviev - piano
Bob Magnusson - bass
Carl Burnett - drums

digital capture of a France Musique rebroadcast from 2021
some applause transitions smoothed -- with volume boosted +3 dB throughout -- by EN, May 2024
719 MB FLAC/direct link

This one was a little chopped up between tunes, with the applause skittering hither and yon. I inserted a few transitional tags to smooth some of these out, and cranked it up 3 dB also. Nothing else was changed.

I'll be back on the weekend with something so cool: the first centennial I've ever done for an alive person! And a stellar 100 one to boot.

That's coming, but Art Pepper blowing up the Cardin using only his horn is here and now! I'll get him again on his big birthday next year, but I didn't wanna wait that long to let Art imitate Life as only he could!--J.
9.1.1925 - 6.15.1982

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Battery Included: Billy Cobham 80

Billy Cobham - Antares

All right, it's time for a milestone birthday bash to snatch your cymbals right off their stands.

I've covered this guy before, but a heavy hitting hero such as he deserves additional glory.

He first broke into the public consciousness as one of the many drummers on some record called Bitches Brew, at the end of the swirling Sixties.

When next he was sighted, it was in 1971 behind the giant, see-through Fibes kit in a somewhat influential group called The Mahavishnu Orchestra.

These Mahavishnu guys were pretty popular, or so I am told. When they first came out, the lines went around the block, up the avenue and across the country and the world.

Musicians who caught them during this initial exposure were next to be found throwing their instruments into the nearest ocean.

After everyone fished their guitars and violins out of the large bodies of water, music changed and Fusion grew up. At least for a few years, until it got repetitive and too chopsy.

As any band is only as great as its drummer, it's needless to say that what this guy did at the backline of Mahavishnu made ten trillion other players immediately set about imitating it, to varying effect.

In 1973 the original TMO split up amid the usual hatreds and clashes. Then our hero started making equally-as-beloved solo platters and the rest, as they say, is hitstory.

It's really not an exaggeration to say it: there is drumming before Billy Cobham, and there's drumming after Billy Cobham.

It's almost like the difference between B&W and color TV.

Unimpeachably one of the fastest, grooviest, thunderous and most precise players ever to touch a stick, when you hear him at his finest you almost wonder why anyone else bothers.

Which brings us to some of the dude's most very finest, assembled into a colossal 2 hour and 40 minute masterclass by me from some of these illicit tapes Bill Graham recorded in secret back in the day, and are now for sale -- with wrong information, often inferior sound and dubious copyright -- by his monetaristic descendants.

Billy Cobham
The Bottom Line
New York City, NY USA

01 drum solo intro
02 Antares
03 AC/DC
04 Ayajala
05 BC talk incl. band introductions
06 Leeward Winds
07 On a Magic Carpet Ride/Stratus
08 La Guernica
09 La Guernica pt II incl. drum solo
10 Stratus
11 Antares/Puffnstuff incl. Stratus (reprise)

Total time: 2:40:54
disc breaks go after Tracks 04 & 07 (or Track 08 if you like)

Billy Cobham - drums, electronics & percussion
Mark Soskin - keyboards
Randy Jackson - bass
Ray Mouton - guitar
Charles Singleton - guitar 
Alvin Batiste - saxophones, clarinet, flute & percussion
everyone - vocals on PuffnStuff

320/48k webstreams from Wolfgang's Vault
spectral analysis is lossless past 20k, so essentially equivalent to a preFM source
converted to 16/44 CD Audio, assembled, repaired, tracked, denoised, edited & remastered -- with erroneous titles corrected -- by EN, May 2024
965 MB FLAC/direct link

These files they have streaming over there are 22 kinds of messed up, but when I work on them we see the spectral goes clean to 20 kHz, which is 5 kHz more than you get from, say, a France Musique DVB rebroadcast, and essentially equivalent to a preFM source... so why not, I ask? It took days and days to get this put together from the mistitled mess it was in, but then that's my job, right?

So Billy Cobham is 80, can you believe that? I hope this little bombshell of a set gets your weekend and beyond grooving properly, in accordance with the fiery Fusion filigree contained in its bits. It may be B.C., but it lives firmly in the future!--J.