The Squid's Ear Magazine

Mitchell, Tyler feat Marshall Allen: Dancing Shadows (Mahakala Music)

Sun Ra alumni, bassist Tyler Mitchell leads a small ensemble including current Arkestra leader, saxophonist Marshall Allen, drummer Wayne Smith and percussionsit Elson Nascimento through a series of Sun Ra compositions and core pieces, along with a Thelonious Monk tune and two Mitchell compositions, in a band with saxophonist Chris Hemingway & Nicoletta Manzini.

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Marshall Allen-saxophone, evi

Tyler Mitchell-bass

Chris Hemmingway-tenor saxophone

Nicoletta Manzini-alto saxophone

Wayne Smith-drums

Elson Nascimento-percussion

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

UPC: 195269129187

Label: Mahakala Music
Catalog ID: MAHA-020
Squidco Product Code: 31434

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on june 9th, 2021, by Jim Hamilton.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Tyler Mitchell was a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra with Marshall in 1985 with Sun Ra, then much later when Marshall became musical director. On this recording Tyler has the opportunity to perform Marshall Allen's and Sun Ra's compositions with a small ensemble. They used different ideas and concepts from two of Tyler's former band leaders: Arthur Taylor and the Sun Ra Arkestra.-Mahakala Music

"If there's any proof to the notion that music can bridge generations, this is it. Veteran jazz bassist Tyler Mitchell, 63, played alongside alto saxophone icon Marshall Allen, 97, with Sun Ra's Arkestra in the 1980s. While they've gone on a variety of separate paths in the decades since, everything beautifully clicks into place on Dancing Shadows, their exquisite new collaboration.

Bandleader Mitchell brought in the still-vibrant nonagenarian Allen and a highly-skilled group of additional players: Chris Hemmingway on tenor saxophone, Nicoletta Manzini on alto saxophone, drummer Wayne Smith and percussionist Elson Nascimento. Dancing Shadows often leans heavily on the cacophonous free jazz so often associated with Mitchell and Allen's former employer, as well as his penchant for spacey, groove-oriented performances. A handful of the songs on Dancing Shadows are Sun Ra compositions, including the majestic opener, "Interstellar Lowways". The gentle, swinging vibe is soon broken wide open with Allen's clarion squeals as if summoning the late Ornette Coleman from the grave.

Elsewhere, original compositions fit in perfectly with the well-chosen covers. Manzini's "Spaced Out" recalls the science fiction landscape of classic Sun Ra, with Allen's EVI (which stands for electronic valve instrument) gliding over the ensemble's flurry of post-bop improvisation. And while Allen's astonishing skill constantly flies in the face of his advanced years, Mitchell's bass playing is a wonder to behold. He continually adds the right amount of groove to the proceedings, on tracks like Sun Ra's "Angels and Demons at Play" and the playful shuffle of "Enlightenment", which manages to infuse a blues/jazz hybrid strut that would make Charles Mingus proud.

Another delightful high point on Dancing Shadows is an interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Skippy". Favoring a straight-up funk beat, the song underscores Monk's playfully quirkiness, with Mitchell and Allen both taking on impressive solos. But songs like "Space Travelers" and "Marshall the Deputy" (the latter a reference to Sun Ra's nickname for Allen) emphasize this ensemble's love for atonal free-jazz freak-outs.

Dancing Shadows checks off a variety of boxes: it embraces free jazz, documents the genre's penchant for blues and funk underpinnings, and - best of all - is a delightfully enjoyable sonic experience."-Chris Ingalls, Pop Matters

This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Get additional information at Pop Matters

Artist Biographies

"Marshall Belford Allen (born May 25, 1924) is an American free jazz and avant-garde jazz alto saxophone player. He also performs on flute, oboe, piccolo, and EVI (an electronic valve instrument made by Steiner, Crumar company).

Allen is best known for his work with eccentric keyboardist/bandleader Sun Ra, having recorded and performed mostly in this context since the late 1950s, and having led Sun Ra's Arkestra since 1993. Critic Jason Ankeny describes Marshall as "one of the most distinctive and original saxophonists of the postwar era."

Marshall Allen was born in Louisville, Kentucky.

During the Second World War he enlisted in the 92nd Infantry Division and was stationed in France. Allen studied alto saxophone in Paris and played in Europe with Art Simmons and James Moody.

He is best known for his mastery of pyrotechnic effects on the alto - he has said that he "wanted to play on a broader sound basis rather than on chords" (1971 interview with Tam Fiofori cited in). The opportunity came through his long association with Sun Ra, with whom he performed almost exclusively from 1958 to Ra's death in 1993, although he did record outside the Arkestra, notably with Paul Bley's group in 1964 and with Olatunji's group during the mid-1960s. Critic Scott Yanow has described Allen's playing as "Johnny Hodges from another dimension".

Since the departure of Sun Ra and John Gilmore, Allen has led the Arkestra, and has recorded two albums as their bandleader. In May 2004, Allen celebrated his 80th birthday on stage with the Arkestra, as part of their performance at the Ninth Vision Festival in New York City. Allen gave another performance on his birthday in 2008 at Sullivan Hall in New York City.

Allen often appears in NYC-area collaborations with bassist Henry Grimes and has also participated in the "Outerzone Orchestra" together with Francisco Mora Catlett, Carl Craig and others in an appreciation of Sun Ra's music."

-Wikipedia (

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"Chicago born Tyler Mitchell studied the bass with Donald Raphael Garrett (Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Roland Kirk) and Malachi Favors (Art Ensemble of Chicago). He played with Von Freeman before moving to NY in 1984. In 1985/86 he joins Sun Ra Arkestra with which he play and tours Europe & Japan and records two albums. Part of the 'Steve Grossman Trio' with Art Taylor touring Europe in 1987 and recording.

In 1988/89 he is one of the 'Art Taylor's Wailer's' also recording live at the Village Vanguard with Jacky Terrasson.

He joins Jon Hendricks' European Tour in 1990 and records Freddie the Freeloader with Stanley Turrentine, Wynton Marsalis.

In 1992 he plays with Shirley Horn recording 'Light out of Darkness'.

In 1997 plays with Rashied Ali, Billy Bang, Jason Lindner, Frank Lowe, Larry Goldings.

In 2000 Tyler moves to Mexico where he meets and plays with many musicians such as Cuban pianist Gabriel Hernandez, guitarist Ken Basman, Pere Soto, trumpeter Jason Palmer, drummers Hernan Hecht, Giovanni Figueroa, Francisco Mela, Alex Kautz, Codaryl Moffett.

He performs and leads the 'The Tyler Mitchell Trio' since it's founding in 2003, featuring Gabriel Hernandez and Alex Kautz. In 2005 Tyler Mitchell Quintet with Gabriel Hernandez.

In 2008 he starts 'The TamoTyler Experience' a psychedelic jazz band with singer-performer TaMo TuMa, Ken Basman, Hernan Hecht.

In 2012, he records his first CD as a leader "Tyler Mitchell Live At Smalls" for the Small's Live Record label. As of 2016, Tyler continues to be in demand as both a leader and sideman in NYC and Internationally."

-Tyler Mitchell Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Chris Hemmingway is an alto saxophonist, a member of New Century Saxophone Quartet.

-New Century Saxophone Quartet (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Nicoletta Manzini saxophonist composer teacher Born in Marano sul Panaro(Italy), begins to play the saxophone at the age of 12 in the town marchin band and studies piano at the same time.

At the age of 20 receives a diploma in classical saxophone at "G.B.Martini' conservatorium of Bologna ,Italy.

Mesmerazid by the music of Charlie Parker abandons classical music for jazz. During this period studies with Giorgio Baiocco,plays with the Jimmy Villotti "pepper Band" and records an album with Tullio de Piscopo.

It is essentially the encounter with Barry Harris, the great pianist and teacher, wich becomes for her a point of reference and a never-ending source of inspiration.

Also significant is her meeting with Steve Grossman, considered one of the masters of modern tenor sax, together wich wom she further studies the instrument and sevelops an intense collaboration.

In the early 90's she's discovered by Francis Paudras, jazz patron and intimate friend of Bud Powell, whose story is told in the film by B.Tavernier "round midnight", interpreted by Dexter Gordon.

Paudras invite her to play in France,where she performs the opening act at the Ray Charles concert in Paris, with Jackie Terrasson, Pierre Bousseget, Bob di Meo

.She performs a series of concerts in the south of France , including the Marciac & Chauvigny jazz festivals, where she's awarded best upcoming talent

.She records her first album as a leader for the french label"Dreyfuss" with Giancarlo Bianchetti guitar, Fred Hemke piano, Reggie Johnson bass, Doc Side drums

. In France she plays with some of the country's best musicians: Rene' Urtreger, Maurice Vander, Pierre Michelot,Charles Bellonzi, Luigi Trussardi.

She partecipates in numerous international jazz festivals, playing with the great Walter Bishop Jr. , Tony Castellano, Tom Kirkpatrick, with the Steve Grossman quintet, Dado Moroni, With Bob Mover and Ray Brown ( Tel Aviv ), Renato Sellani, George Brown, Turk Mauro, Antonio Ciacca, Andrea Pozza, Adam Pache, Sasha Perry, Tyler Mitchell, Ilya Lushtak and many more.


Bologna, Italy- Marciac, France- Florence, Italy- Chauvigny, France- Lucca donna jazz, Italy- Paris, France- Orvieto winter jazz fest, Italy- Barga jazz, Italy- Copenahgen, Denmark- Magra jazz, Italy- Tel Aviv, Israel- womajazz, Modena, Italy- Montalcino jazz & wine, Italy- Calvi, Corsica- zola jazz & wine< Zola Predosa, Italy- Ancona jazz, Italy

She always accompanied her role as a concert player with that of a teacher


Dopolavoro Ferroviario, Bologna, Italy

C.E.P.A.M Reggio Emilia, Italy

Istituto superiore Agostino Paradisi, Marano sul Panaro, Modena, Italy

Associazione culturale Monteverde Roma , Italy

Music Academy Roma, Italy

Weekly jazz workshop at Bebe do samba, Roma Italy

Felt music club Roma, Italy

Video Ambiente Roma, Italy

She partecipates in various Master Classes with:

Barry Harris, Steve Grossman, Jim Rorondi, Benny Golson, Gary Smulian, Peter King, Max Ionata

In 2010 she is honored as "citizen of the year" by the town of Marano sul Panaro , Modena, Italy, for her artistic achievements.

Her music is inspired by the great jazz masters such as Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Charlie Parker, passing through Sonny Stitt, Jackie Mc Lean and John Coltrane

She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York."

-Nicoletta Manzini MySpace (

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"Nurtured in the legendary Philadelphia jazz scene, Wayne Smith, Jr.'s career as drummer is as promising as it is eclectic. After graduating from the famed Creative and Performing Arts High School, he went on to study at the world renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston. Eager to advance his music career, Wayne began performing regularly at staples of the Philadelphia jazz community including Chris' Jazz Cafe and Ortlieb's Jazzhaus. As his reputation grew, he branched out, performing in New York, Baltimore and Washington D.C alongside such well known musicians as Donald Byrd, Orrin Evans, Duane Eubanks, John Ellis, Stacy Dillard and Bootsie Barnes. He teamed up with Victor North (saxophonist) and Lucas Brown (organist) to form Three Blind Mice and the trio still performs together to this day. After being tapped to join the legendary Sun Ra Akestra, Wayne toured Europe, Canada, and Australia, which would prove instrumental in his development as an artist.

During his travels, Wayne was exposed to a variety of musical genres and styles that piqued his interest and stimulated his musical growth. He began to explore a blossoming interest in rock music, anchoring a group that went on to do multiple recordings. He also began to pursue relationships with other musicians. It was during this time that he reunited with a former band mate, pianist George Burton. "I've known Wayne since I was about 16 years old. He was the first drummer I used regularly. Over time, I started using different cats to try to get a different feel on my music. But, the problem with that is that after every gig I always thought 'if Wayne had played, he would have murdered it', so I always went back."

With a heightened passion, Wayne developed his now signature playing style that revels in the dynamic interplay between musicians. His experimentation inspired a new musical sensibility; one that remains grounded while still ferociously ambitious. Tim Warfield (acclaimed tenor saxophonist and Temple University professor) has described Wayne as an "inventive drummer who displays an in-depth musical consciousness, quite willing to embrace the moment, yet never losing himself nor the tradition in the search." Jazz guitarist Steve Giordano agrees, stating "I love playing with Wayne as his natural feel and energy always adds to my compositions in his unique way. Even when he just lays it down, his feel is so good that the music always swings."

Recently, Wayne has showcased his unique style in New York City, performing at Smalls Jazz Club, Smoke, Zinc Bar, and Fat Cats. A growing network of musicians, including Darryl Yokely, Lars Haake, Nina Bundy, Dan Peterson, and Luques Curtis have performed and recorded with Wayne. He also formed his own New York based band, The Wayne Smith Quintet. The ambient influenced group marks Smith's progression as he continues to merge his jazz fundamentals with his developing rock edge. He is contributing to the future of jazz as an educator at several high schools as well as providing private lessons for budding musicians."

-Wayne Smith Website (

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Elson Nascimento (Elson Dos Santos Nascimento) is a percussionist (mainly a surdo player) with the Sun Ra Arkestra since 1987.

-Discogs (

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Track Listing:

1. Interstellar Lowways 7:25

2. Spaced Out 4:22

3. Angels and Demons at Play 5:19

4. Skippy 3:19

5. Nico 3:09

6. Dancing Shadows 3:40

7. Carefree 2:36

8. Marshall the Deputy 3:03

9. Nico Revisited 3:51

10. Space Travelers 1:50

11. Enlightenment 6:14

12. A Call for All Demons 3:08

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Sextet Recordings
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Sun Ra
Jazz & Improvisation Based on Compositions

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