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Sun Ra Arkestra: Nothing is ... Completed & Revisited (ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)

Reissuing and remastering Sun Ra's 1966 Arkestra album Nothing Is, the complete live recording from St. Lawrence University in NY with a classic ensemble including saxophonists Marshall Allen, Pat Patrick & John Gilmore, bassist Ronnie Boykins, drummer Cliffor Jarvis, &c., an incredible concert with an exemplary set of Sun Ra compositions and performances.
 

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product information:


UPC: 752156112723

Label: ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd
Catalog ID: ezz-thetics 1127
Squidco Product Code: 31591

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2022
Country: Switzerland
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at St. Lawrence University, in Potsdam, New York, on May 18th, 1966. Originally issued in 1965 on the ESP label as a vinyl LP with catalog code ESP-DISK 1045, then issued with the complete concert in 2005 as a CD with catalog code ESP 4024.


Personnel:

Sun Ra-piano

Marshall Allen-alto saxophone

John Gilmore-tenor saxophone

Pat Patrick-baritone saxophone

Robert Cummings-bariton clarinet

Ali Hassan-trombone

Teddy Nance-trombone

Carl Nimrod-sun horn, gong

Ronnie Boykins-double bass, tuba

James Jackson-log drum, flute

Clifford Jarvis-drums

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Artist Biographies:

"Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 - May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his experimental music, "cosmic philosophy", prolific output, and theatrical performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979. For much of his career, Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.

Born and raised in Alabama, Blount would eventually become involved in the 1940s Chicago jazz scene. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun) and developing a complex persona and mythology that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism: he claimed he was an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life he consistently denied any ties to his prior identity. His widely eclectic and exploratory music would eventually touch on virtually the entire history of jazz, ranging from swing music and bebop to free jazz and fusion, and his compositions ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the space age.

Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, and making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century. Following Sun Ra's death in 1993, the Arkestra continues to perform."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Ra)
5/18/2022

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

"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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Allen)
5/18/2022

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

"John Gilmore (September 28, 1931 – August 19, 1995) was an avant-garde jazz saxophonist known for his tenure with keyboardist/bandleader Sun Ra from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Gilmore grew up in Chicago and played clarinet from the age of 14. He took up the tenor saxophone while serving in the United States Air Force from 1948 to 1952, then pursued a musical career, playing briefly with pianist Earl Hines before encountering Sun Ra in 1953.

For the next four decades, Gilmore recorded and performed almost exclusively with Sun Ra. This was puzzling to some, who noted Gilmore's talent, and thought he could be a major star like John Coltrane or Sonny Rollins. Despite being five years older than Gilmore, Coltrane was impressed with his playing, and took informal lessons from Gilmore in the late 1950s. Coltrane's epochal, proto–free jazz "Chasin' the Trane" was inspired partly by Gilmore's sound.

In 1957 he co-led with Clifford Jordan a Blue Note date that is regarded as a hard bop classic: Blowing In from Chicago. Horace Silver, Curly Russell, and Art Blakey provided the rhythm section. In the mid-1960s Gilmore toured with the Jazz Messengers and he participated in recording sessions with Paul Bley, Andrew Hill (Andrew! and Compulsion), Pete La Roca (Turkish Women at the Bath), McCoy Tyner (Today and Tomorrow) and a handful of others. In 1970 he co-led a recording with Jamaican trumpeter Dizzy Reece. His main focus throughout, however, remained with the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Gilmore's devotion to Sun Ra was due, in part, to the latter's use of harmony, which Gilmore considered both unique and a logical extension of bebop. Gilmore had stated that Sun Ra was "more stretched out than Monk" and that "I'm not gonna run across anybody who's moving as fast as Sun Ra ... So I just stay where I am."

Gilmore occasionally doubled on drums and also played bass clarinet until Sun Ra hired Robert Cummings as a specialist on the latter instrument in the mid-1950s. However, tenor sax was his main instrument and Gilmore himself made a huge contribution to Sun Ra's recordings and was the Arkestra's leading sideman, being given solos on almost every track on which he appeared. In the Rough Guide to Jazz, Brian Priestley says:

Gilmore is known for two rather different styles of tenor playing. On performances of a straight ahead post-bop character (which include many of those with Sun Ra), he runs the changes with a fluency and tone halfway between Johnny Griffin and Wardell Gray, and with a rhythmic and motivic approach which he claims influenced Coltrane. On more abstract material, he is capable of long passages based exclusively on high-register squeals. Especially when heard live, Gilmore was one of the few musicians who carried sufficient conviction to encompass both approaches.

Many fans of jazz saxophone consider him to be among the greatest ever, his fame shrouded in the relative anonymity of being a member of Sun Ra's Arkestra. His "straight ahead post-bop" talents are exemplified in his solo on the Arkestra's rendition of "Blue Lou," as seen on Mystery, Mr. Ra.

After Sun Ra's 1993 death, Gilmore led Ra's Arkestra for a few years before his own death from emphysema. Marshall Allen then took over the Arkestra leadership."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gilmore_(musician))
5/18/2022

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

"To describe the phenomenal musical background of musician, composer, arranger "Pat" Patrick could fill several pages. His versatility combined with a distinctly individual sound has enhanced groups led by Erskine Hawkins, Sun Ra, Leon Thomas, Cab Calloway, Earl Hines, Horace Henderson, James Moody, Cootie Williams, Duke Ellington and Thelonius Monk to mention a few. His musical education includes study under Captain Walter Dyett at Du Sable High, Willy Randall of the original Earl Hines Band, Clark Terry and Wilson Jr. College in Chicago. Pat is the winner of the Downbeat TDWR (Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition) 1971 critics poll and fifth in the Downbeat "Established Talent" critics poll in 1972. Honours in the Popular Readers poll are also to his credit. Not only has he had several of his compositions recorded, but has composed music for a number of plays and television. He has recorded with Sun Ra, James Moody, Quincy Jones, Mongo Santamaria, Olatunji and John Coltrane among others. Pat Patrick is co-founder of the Baritone Saxophone Retinue.

As composer, bandleader, and full-time member of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Pat Patrick was a visionary musician whose singular contribution to the jazz tradition has not yet been fully recognised. As well holding down the baritone spot in the Arkestra for 35 years, Patrick played flute and alto, composed in both jazz and popular idioms, and was a widely respected musician, playing with Duke Ellington, Eric Dolphy, Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, with whom he appeared on Africa/Brass. But he is best known for his crucial contributions to key Sun Ra recordings including Angels and Demons at Play, Jazz in Silhouette and Nubians of Plutonia, among dozens of others.

As a bandleader, Patrick only released one LP - the almost mythical Sound Advice, recorded with his Baritone Saxophone Retinue, a unique gathering of baritone saxophone masters including Charles Davis and Rene Mclean. First issued in 1977 on Sun Ra's legendary Saturn Records imprint, Sound Advice is a deephued exploration of this special instrument, a lost masterpiece of Arkestrally-minded Ellingtonia where higher adepts of the lower cosmic tones are heard in rare conference."

-Pat Patrick Bandcamp Page (https://patpatrick.bandcamp.com/)
5/18/2022

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"Robert Cummings: Bass clarinet player with the Sun Ra Arkestra from 1963 until 1971. In groups: The Dave Brubeck Octet, The Sun Ra Arkestra."

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/256610-Robert-Cummings?page=2)
5/18/2022

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

Teddy Nance was a trombonist with The Sun Ra Arkestra from 1963 into the 1990s.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/256612-Teddy-Nance)
5/18/2022

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

"Ronnie Boykins (December 17, 1935 - April 20, 1980) was a jazz bassist and is best known for his work with pianist/bandleader Sun Ra, although he had played with such disparate musicians as Muddy Waters, Johnny Griffin, and Jimmy Witherspoon prior to joining Sun Ra's Arkestra.

He joined the Arkestra during the Chicago period, travelled with them to Canada and then to New York City. Boykins has been described as "the pivot around which much of Sun Ra's music revolved for 8 years".

This is especially pronounced on the key recordings from 1965 (The Magic City, The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume One and The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume Two) where the intertwining lines of Boykins' bass and Ra's electronic keyboards provide the cohesion. He was a regular member of Sun Ra's band from 1958 until 1966, and occasionally thereafter up to 1974.

Like his fellow Sun Ra bandmates, John Gilmore and Pat Patrick, Boykins attended Chicago's DuSable High School and studied under its famed music teacher "Captain" Walter Dyett. He also studied with Ernie Shepard, who would later work with Duke Ellington.

Before joining Ra, Boykins had joined with a trombonist friend to open a private club-The House of Culture-with the intent of promoting black culture.

Boykins' arco solo on Sun Ra's "Rocket No. 9 Take Off for Planet Venus" from 1960 may be the first recorded example of the bass being played in a horn-like manner within a relatively free context, predating similar work by Alan Silva and David Izenzon. Boykins worked with both free and straight-ahead musicians.

In 1962, he recorded with the hard bop tenor saxophonist Bill Barron and, the next year, with pianist Elmo Hope. Boykins worked with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp's New York Contemporary Five in 1964. Boykins left Ra in 1966, ostensibly to pursue more lucrative opportunities; Ra had a difficult time finding a replacement, at times settling for playing his own bass lines on keyboard.

In the late '60s, he formed his own group, the Free Jazz Society, which included the pianist John Hicks.

In the '70s, Boykins played with the Melodic Art-tet, a cooperative free jazz ensemble that also included drummer Roger Blank, saxophonist Charles Brackeen, and trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah.

In 1975, the bassist led a session for ESP Disk that produced his sole LP as a leader, The Will Come, Is Now.

In 1979 he played with Steve Lacy and Dennis Charles on New York Capers and Quirks. In the course of his career, Boykins also worked with Mary Lou Williams, Marion Brown, Sarah Vaughan, and Hajj Daoud Haroon, among others.

He died of a heart attack in 1980 at the age of 44."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronnie_Boykins)
5/18/2022

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

"Clifford Osbourne Jarvis (August 26, 1941 - November 26, 1999) was an American hard bop and free jazz drummer, who in the 1980s moved to London, England, where he spent the remainder of his career.

Clifford Jarvis, the son of Malcom "Shorty" Jarvis was born in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, where he studied at Berklee College of Music in the 1950s.

Moving to New York City, he established himself in jazz between 1959 and 1966, by recording with bebop and hard-bop musicians including Randy Weston, Yusef Lateef, Freddie Hubbard, Barry Harris, Jackie McLean, John Patton, Chet Baker, Kenny Drew, Walter Davis, and Elmo Hope, and playing with Grant Green and Rahsaan Roland Kirk.

He worked and recorded with musicians associated with free jazz, including Sun Ra (from 1962 to 1976), Pharoah Sanders, Sonny Simmons, Alice Coltrane, and Archie Shepp.

During the 1980s, Jarvis moved to England, where he played with younger musicians including Courtney Pine. He also worked as a music educator at Chats Palace Arts Centre in London and Pyramid Arts Development in Dalston. Jarvis continued teaching until his death in 1999."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifford_Jarvis)
5/18/2022

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track listing:


1. Sun Ra & His Band From Outer Space 11:19

2. The Shadow World 4:30

3. Theme Of The Stargazers 1:49

4. Outer Spaceways Incorporated 0:32

5. Next Stop Mars 0:35

6. Dancing Shadows 9:45

7. Imagination 0:41

8. Second Stop Is Jupiter 1:12

9. Exotic Forest 9:44

10. Velvet 7:20

11. Outer Nothingness 15:45

12. We Travel The Spaceways 1:34
sample the album:








descriptions, reviews, &c.

"On May 26 1966, NASA unveiled the Saturn V, the heavy-lift launch vehicle that would, three years later, fulfil John F. Kennedy's promise that before the end of the decade America would send a man to the moon and return him safely to earth. A towering achievement! Literally so. The Saturn V was 110m tall and the project had cost more than $6 billion at 1960s.

Nobody at NASA may have noticed that at the same time as the agency's grand show-and-tell was in the planning and that dramatic unveiling, someone else was promising "Next Stop Mars" and "Second Stop Jupiter", of which only the first destination seems a viable proposition more than half a century on. In the spring and summer of 1966, Sun Ra and the Arkestra were playing penny-ante gigs on American campuses. The music on Nothing Is comes from a concert at St Lawrence University in Potsdam, New York, a nicely Old Worldsounding location for music that broke beyond the New Frontier. It was an epic affair, heard in total here remastered, though originally released by ESP Disk.

When Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon, it was taken for granted that it would be a white man, of course. Sun Ra didn't just aim for landings on the outer planets, he gave it to be understood that he came from there, as well. It's now fairly well understood that this was his metaphor, played to the hilt, for a profound sense of alienation from a society and nation that during its short history had rendered in law the principle that a black man only counted for half or two-thirds of a white man; a country that had gone to bloody war over whether it was morally valid to "own", buy and sell another person and claim his life's labour as your own; a country that had continued to abuse, subject and even murder people of colour with relative impunity.

Sun Ra's message seemed to be that if you thought space exploration was out there and edgy, you should try living with dark skin in the South, or even in a supposedly more enlightened northern city. The music of the Arkestra was the music of a dispossessed race whose ancestry went back to the great Nilotic and Ashante kingdoms, whose present was one of degradation and shame, but whose future was sufficiently limitless to make the Saturn V seem like a fizzling stick and its mission little more than parochial.

The Arkestra discography is vast and sprawling. With dogged self-reliance, Sun Ra had put out much of the group's early output on his own El Saturn label, but he inevitably attracted the notice of some of the more ambitious and enlightened record labels of the time, and notably Bernard Stollman's beyond-category ESP-Disk. The best known Sun Ra record on the imprint are The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra Vol. 1 & 2, which is now available remastered on ezz-thetics 1103. Nothing Is... remains less well known, but it is a classic Arkestra performance, with wonderful playing from some of the group's most loyal and dedicated members, baritone saxophonist Pat Patrick, the mighty tenor player John Gilmore, and alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, who many years later holds the keys to the Arkestra legacy.

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Improvised Music
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Sun Ra
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