Leader, principal songwriter, and arranger of Sun Ra’s Arkestra, Germantown saxophone legend Marshall Allen takes the stage at Solar Myth.
The Halloween/All Souls/Thanksgiving holiday swing is turning out to be a banner moment for Germantown’s Marshall Allen – the longtime collaborator to that neighborhood’s Sun Ra, the leader, and principal songwriter and arranger, to Ra’s Arkestra since Sun’s passing, and a solo artist in his own right with his arsenal of reeds, koras, flute, and electronic wind instruments.
Plus, as always and ever, and at 98 years old, Marshall Allen is still surprising audiences, in Philly and beyond this universe.
How surprising? This weekend, Allen is playing a just-scheduled, last-minute concert at Ars Nova Workshop’s new live gig showcase venue, Solar Myth (1131 S. Broad Street) on Saturday, November 12. The one-off appearance of Arkestra maestro Allen finds him leading his Ghost Horizons ensemble featuring Arkestra members (guitarist DMHotep and trombonist Dave Davis) with bassist Luke Stewart (Irreversible Entanglements) and free jazz drummer Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground). Allen has made much work outside the Arkestra, with fellow avant-garde improvisers such as Hamid Drake, Danny Ray Thompson, Trevor Dunn (who just played Solar Myth) Balázs Pándi, and Roswell Rudd in the past, and, as recently as 2020 as Flow States with Roscoe Mitchell, Scott Robinson, and Milford Graves. So expect that unexpected.
After its 2021 Grammy-nominated new album, Swirling, the Allen-led Arkestra jumped right back into Germantown’s Rittenhouse SoundWorks Studio to record an even newer album for its even newer label, Living Sky on Omni Sound, and dropped the fruits of its labor in October 2022, with a fresh batch of Allen’s new songs to go with ensemble familiars such as “Chopin”, the first studio recording of Sun Ra’s elaboration of “Prelude in A Major” from Chopin’s “miniature Opus 28 No. 7”.
Add to all this, that in 2022, the Ra House at 5626 Morton Street, also known as the Arkestral Institute of Sun Ra, was listed as a historic landmark in the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places (Allen began living there in 1968) and this is truly Marshall Allen’s moment.
Images: Vladimir Radojicic