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Sun Ra Arkestra

Biography

SUN RA ARKESTRA directed by MARSHALL ALLEN

 
Sun Ra
 
In Jazz, unity could emerge even while individual notes seemed to be in disarray and rhythms seemed uncountable. Jazz demanded discipline and precision, but also an open mind. "A lot of things that some men do...come from somewhere else," Sun Ra said, "or they’re inspired by something that’s not of this planet. And jazz was most definitely inspired, because it wasn’t here before." Jazz was the road to a mystical experience, a sort ofreasoned ecstasy. It was the music of elsewhere.

Sun Ra Arkestra

Sun Ra called his band the Arkestra, though it went far beyond the limits of a band. The Arkestra was Sun Ra’s grand Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work that crossed the boundaries of art and life for Sun Ra and his musicians. It was Sun Ra’s little Utopia. The name Arkestra itself was an allusion to the Ark of the Covenant. "A covenant of Arkestra," said Sun Ra, "it’s like a selective service of God. Picking out some people. Arkestra has a ‘ra’ at the beginning and the end. Ra can be written as ‘Ar’ or ‘Ra,’ and on both ends of the word it is an equation: the first 
and the last are equal.... In the middle there is ‘kest,’ which equals ‘kist,’ as in ‘Sunkist’...I read that in Sanskrit ‘kist’ means ‘sun’s gleam.’ This iswhy I called my orchestra ‘Arkestra.’”

Marshall Belford Allen

Allen assumed the position of Arkestra Musical Director in 1995, following the ascension of Sun Ra in 1993 and John Gilmore in 1995. Marshall continues to be committed to the study, research, and development of Sun Ra's musical precepts and has launched the Sun Ra Arkestra into a dimension beyond that of mere "ghost" band by writing fresh arrangements of Sun Ra's music, as well as composing new music and arrangement for the Arkestra. He works unceasingly to keep the big-band tradition alive. 


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