Sun Ra Arkestra – Chopin

23rd September 2022 · 2020s, 2022, Jazz, Music

This has properly blown my mind. Not just listening to it, but because it is surely the first – and only – record I have ever heard to be recorded by a 98-year-old man.

The man in question is alto sax player Marshall Allen, musical director and soprano saxophonist of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Regarded as the originator of the avant-garde sax, he seems to have lost none of his powers (or puff) on this new single from the forthcoming album Living Sky.

As the press release puts it (far better than I, who cannot write about jazz and often struggles to appreciate it): “The piece unfurls with an elegant placidity, a simple piano line spread among the brass, and Allen’s stabbing sour-toned solos sandwiching the graceful solo statement of veteran French horn maestro Vincent Chancey.

“Allen is the iconic fire breather and life force that restored the Arkestra’s vitality in the massive vacuum left by Ra and John Gilmore’s death in the 1990s.

Chopin is the first studio recording of Sun Ra’s elaboration of “Prelude in A Major” of the Frédéric Chopin “miniature Opus 28 No. 7,” which previously appeared on only a few live recordings.

Baritone sax player Knoel Scott says: “Chopin was one of Sun Ra’s features for the lyrical wizardry of Marshall’s alto – truly a wonder to behold at the age 98.”

You can say that again: I marvel at his ability simply to blow the damn thing.