THE LAST JAZZ GIANT: Marshall Allen Celebrates 94th Birthday

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Saxaphonist Marshall Allen and son Ronny Allen bookend seven year old saxaphonist and Sun Ra Arkesta aficionado Lena Rogers at the Iridium Jazz Club in NYC celebrating Marshall's 94th birthday.

 

In the world of jazz, alto saxophonist and Sun Ra Arkesta leader Marshall Allen is Nelson Mandela. He just turned 94, and he shows no signs of slowing down. In fact things appear to be reving up for Mr. Allen. The New York Times Giovanni Russonello referred to his "late-late-career renaissance." Jazz Critic Jason Ankeny has written that Marshall is "one of the most distinctive and original saxophonists of the postwar era." He is also the last of his postwar jazz musician to still be actively touring.

After flying in from a gig on Moscow television on his 94th birthday, The Black Star News met up with Marshall at the Iridium in New York City for a second birthday celebration, coincidentally held on the 25th Anniversary of Sun Ra's ascension to Saturn.

"I made it another year. Another birthday," Marshall Allen said at dinner. His sax solos are as sharp as ever, short splatters of screaming overtones, augmented with mind bending EVI wizardry that he runs through six effects pedals. Standing next to him is the vocal Goddess Tara Middleton, who has been singing angelic for Ra the last six years.

The Sun Ra Arkestra, still traveling the space ways together after 62 years, is in high demand around the world. Why woudnt they be, being the imprimatur of postwar avant garde music, influencing almost everyone who has picked up an instrument since. 

Since 1956, the Sun Ra Arkestra has floated through time, mystically arriving at pivotal moments in music history. They are the only jazz group to perform on Saturday Night Live in 1978. The Grateful Dead's mid second set of "Drums/Space" was essentially a homage to Ra, also began on the 1978 spring tour. From John Cage and John Williams to Punk, Reggae- even pop princess Lady Gaga have all knelt before the alter of Ra.  

A few days after show at the Iridium, the Arkestra jammed with U2 at the Apollo in Harlem. On Wednesday, August 8, 2018 at 7:30PM, Sun Ra Arkestra will return to NYC and perform at the Lincoln Center/Damrosch Park Bandshell for all ages and is free.

Sun Ra Arkestra - Russian TV- 5/24/18

U2 and Sun Ra Arkestra- Apollo Theater, NYC- 6/11/18

 

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