Marshall Allen / Kash Killion: “Two Stars In The Universe”

Posted in 33 rpm, Free Jazz, jazz, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by crownpropeller

SOME COPIES STILL AVAILABLE!

As vaguely announced at the end of this post, my friend Hubi and me along with sound engineer Dario went to Poschiavo in summer 2012 to see the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Maestro Marshall Allen and make a recording of  Allen to be released on a limited edition vinyl LP.

Crown Propeller’s blog announces that this record, “Two Stars in The Universe”, featuring duets by Marshall Allen with masterful cellist, bolon/bolong and sarangi player Kash Killion, will now be released as Little Rocket Records LP001 on May 22nd!

So what does it sound like? Have a glimpse at our little  promotion video to get an idea:

Note though, that the sound on all video clips in this blog post is directly from the camera’s microphone. The LP sounds much better. A short mp3 excerpt from the original master can be had on request.

cover-goldLittle Rocket LP 001 will be released on May 22nd, 2014

So how did this come to happen? My friend Hubi  and me are long time devotees of that cosmic being called Sun Ra. And we both developed a deep love for the idiosyncratic sound of  alto saxophonist and now Arkestra leader Marshall Allen.

So when in spring of 2012 we heard that the Arkestra will be accompanying two theatrical productions during three days at the Uncool Festival  in Poschiavo (at the the south-eastern end of Switzerland), we had the idea to record Allen playing solo, since we wanted  to capture his sound pure and unaccompanied. Since we both are also what you would call vinyl junkies it was decided there and then that we will be trying to release a limited edition vinyl LP and found a little record company that will exist until the copies are sold out.

allen:killion_black_gold

Marshall Allen and Kash Killion in Poschiavo, June 21, 2012

We decided to try to reach Marshall via Cornelia Müller who runs the Uncool Festival. Finally a week before the Poschiavo event,  Marshall let us know through Cornelia that he was ready and willing. Cornelia promised to get a room organized for thursday, June 21. So Hubi, me and our engineer Dario on wednesday made the six hour car ride to see the Arkestra’s evening show and record Marshall the next day.

road

On the way to Poschiavo in the beautiful Poschiavo valley

I had become sick a day right before our trip and had a bad fever when we arrived in Poschiavo and were told by Cornelia that it was hard to organize a room and that maybe we should ask around the small village for a room to record in on the next morning. I thought: ok, this is the end of our little adventure, as I could not imagine knocking at unsuspecting people’s doors and asking them if we could maybe record some free jazz in there barn or their living room. Nonetheless I managed to enjoy the three hour Arkestra gig that evening. Marshall – at that time 88 years old – was blowing, directing the band, singing, dancing all evening through without ever sitting down for a minute – clearly music is his fuel. Excerpts from that concert can be found here.

marshall_on_stageMarshall Allen fronting the Arkestra in Poschiavo, June 20, 2012.

marshall_on_stage_2Marshall Allen on stage in Poschiavo, June 20, 2012.

I had a sleepless, fevery night and on the next morning Dario, our italian speaking and good looking sound engineer, talked a hotel maid into letting us use the Hotel’s diner room. But then on our way to breakfast we met Cornelia again who told us that she managed to get a room anyway and Marshall would be ready to meet us at 12 o’ clock.

 

spazioLo Spazio in Poschiavo

The room turned out to be Cornelia’s living room in her house and artists’ space “Lo Spazio”. The room had very beautiful acoustics – so we were happy. But then Marshall appeared and told us he really was not in the mood for playing solo since he needs (an)other person(s) to react to: “I am a band musician”. So this again sounded like the end of it – but we had the  idea to ask Marshall if there is someone in the band he’d like to record in a duo context with. Marshall said that yes, he’d like to record with Kash Killion who is playing cello with the Arkestra on and off since 1991. This sounded very promising to us, so we gathered some more cash together to be able to pay Kash something as well.

dario_allen

Sound engineer “Il Nuovo Presidente” Dario and Marshall Allen

We phoned Kash who was ready to come over from his hotel at once and brought along his cello, a Sarangi – the queen of indian instruments because it is so close to the human voice (Killion has studied  the instrument with the great indian master Ali Akbar Khan) – as well as a Bolong (also spelled Bolon) – a harp from west africa that also functions as a percussive instrument when you hit the neck and the gourd.

setting_upSetting up: Dario, Marshall Allen and Kash Killion in Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

Marshall and Kash played beautiful improvised music for two and a half hours without ever talking about what to play next and visibly having fun all the while. We just sat there in awe not daring to interfere or make any suggestions like true producers are supposed to do (or are they?).

sessionOff we go: Marshall Allen and Kash Killion at the Little Rocket Records
recording session, Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

Here’s a little view into the recording session, Marshall Allen on flute and Kash Killion on Sarangi playing an improvisation they later titled “India Reflections”:

happyIt’s done: Marshall Allen, Armin Büttner, Hubi Horst and Kash Killion,
Poschiavo, June 21, 2012.

¨allenkilliondarioAfter the session: Marshall Allen, Dario and Kash Killion

 Apart from choosing the tracks for release we did not do any editing or massive post production. We just choose complete tracks as Dario recorded all of this so perfectly – standing in a half bowed, body devastating position in front of the musicians all this time, a little digital recorder in his hands.

“Two Stars in The Universe” as the LP was titled by Marshall and Kash is a beautiful, surprisingly quiet and moody but also very joyful record of many colors. Besides alto saxophone and flute Marshall also plays one of those old small Casio keyboards. I always think he is channeling messages from Sun Ra with it. If you listen to his Casio playing on “Cosmic Blues-Life Of Two”: Hearing the rattling sound of it’s keys struck by Marshall, you’ll notice that he uses the same fluttering up and down hand movements  that he uses when producing the freaky alto sounds he is known for. Here is an excerpt from “Cosmo Blues-Life of Two”:

 

I had to be back at the office the next day, so we had to return. But after I told my girlfriend about the experience, she went down to Poschiavo for the last Arkestra show a day later. After the – again very long concert – Marshall and Kash Killion sat down stage front after most people had already left and played kora and bolon for a while. You can see again that they really enjoy playing together:


(Video courtesy of The Sun Ra Arkestra)

All 250 copies of the 180 gram vinyl  LP  “Two Stars In The Universe” have handprinted (silk-screened) covers. Some are printed in gold on black, some in silver, blue, or white, we think it came out very nice. Here is a little clip from the silk-screening process. Music for this video is an excerpt from an unreleased track, recorded with a photo camera after session for the LP had already ended.

silk_screenBeautifully designed (thanks, M.!!!) and freshly silk-screened

Unfortunately this did not make the thing cheap. This beauty will cost 35 Dollars (postage – which is high – not included). This will hopefully allow us to get back our expenses if nothing more.

The record will be officially released at the Arkestra concert in Zurich on May 22nd, Sun Ra’s 100th Arrival-on-Earth-Jubilee. Since there is no real distribution, the way to go is contact me directly if one wants to obtain a copy. Please use the comment section of this post to get in contact.

Enjoy!

The Sam Lazar discography

Posted in 33 rpm, 45 rpm, Cawthron, Discography, Grant Green, Sam Lazar with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 10, 2014 by crownpropeller


lazar_red

Sam Lazar

Organist Sam Lazar from St. Louis is a mysterious figure about whom not very much is known. His (very small) fame among jazz fans is based on the fact that guitarist Grant Green’s first recordings were done in groups led by Lazar.

Lazar, who was born around 1933, vanished from the scene at sometime in the early sixties and nobody seems to really know what became of him (and I am 99 percent sure that the – unsourced – stories about his later life in Lazar’s Wikipedia entry are bogus (so I do not link to that entry) – or are they?

Anyway, since I think it’s worth to listen to Lazar also if Green is not part of the proceedings, I decided to make an illustrated discography of Sam Lazar’s recorded works. Some of the entrys are linked to audio files or youtube videos – just in case you want to listen to Lazar while reading about his works.

lazar-ad

Enjoy!

Sun Ra in Lugano 1985

Posted in clips, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2014 by crownpropeller

I managed to see the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen three times this year (more about that on this blog soon). The last concert I saw was in Lugano on July 11, where after the concert I had the chance to talk to percussionist/tour manager Elson Nascimento for a while. Elson remarked that the last time he played in Lugano was in 1990, when Sun Ra was still on this planet. I told him that there was footage from the 1990 concert on youtube as well as from the Arkestra’s 1985 Lugano appearance. I was wrong about the 1985 concert though. I thought I had seen it there, but maybe it has been taken off again.

So I have put it up again.  Boring technical problems unfortunately made me cut it into three parts. Furthermore there are some fade-ins and fade-outs – but with really not much missing in between tracks.

The Arkestra on this date: Sun Ra (ldr, p, synth, voc), Ronnie Brown (tp), Tyrone Hill (tb, voc), Marshall Allen (as, fl, picc, perc), John Gilmore (ts, cl, timbales, voc), Ronald Wilson (ts, picc), Danny Ray Thompson (bars, fl, bgo), James Jacson (bassoon, fl, Infinity Drum, Eloe Omoe (bcl, as, perc), Bruce Edwards (g), Rollo Radford (eb), Avreeayl Amen Ra (dr), unidentified (dr), June Tyson (voc, dance tambourine); unidentified (dance).

So: Enjoy!

 

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

 

 

 

 

 

Blues masters galore: Muddy, Gatemouth, Witherspoon, King, Rush and King

Posted in B.B. King, Blues, clips, Gatemouth Brown, Jimmy Witherspoon, Muddy Waters, Otis Rush with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2014 by crownpropeller

When the weather is hot like it’s now, there only two kinds of music I can listen to: Old school dub reggae or the Blues. Since I guess there might be some people among my subscribers who love the Blues as much as I do, I am offering you a bunch of rare concert clips – some of them actually quite long – featuring masters of classical electric blues playing.

The first clip features something different though: Legendary singer Jimmy Witherspoon who is more out of the vintage r’n’b /jazz school. Here is Witherspoon in Nice on July 9, 1979 .

 Witherspoon is accompagnied by Eugene Edwards (g),  Roy Alexander (org) and Maurice Simon jr. (dr). They are playing Everyday I Have The Blues,I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water, See See Rider, and Jimmy Reed’s Big Boss Man.

And here are 26 minutes from the same festival featuring the Muddy Waters Blues Band on July 10, 1977

With Clark Terry (tp) as a guest on one track (I had published that on youtube before) , Bob Margolin (eg), Guitar Junior (eg), Pinetop Perkins (p), Calvin Jones (eb) and Willy “Big Eyes” Smith (dr).

They Are Playing:

Honeydripper Intro, Soon Forgotten, Baby Please Don’t Go, What’s the Matter with the Mill, Stormy Monday Blues (feat. Clark Terry) and Everything Gonna be Alright

The next clip comes from still the same festival. Here multiinstrumentalist Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown is featured with the Wallace Davenport New Orleans All Stars giving us some Street Corner business.

 

Gatemouth Brown appeared at the festival again on July 14 1977 accompgnied by Billy Mitchell (ts); Lloyd Glenn (p); George Duvivier and J.C. Heard (dr). I had already put up a part of that gig on youtube and had presented it in this blog entry. In this part here they are playing: Lets Groove (you know that ain’t it’s title) and If You’ve Ever Been Mistreated in which Brown changes to violin. Gatemouth Brown deserves to be much better known!

 

Next up is half an hour of B.B. King from the 1984 Montreux Jazz Festival. A lot of B.B.’s Montreux apperances are already on youtube, but this one wasn’t up to now. If you know who is playing with B.B. here, please let me know. I do not have the patience to check the setlist right now, but I know you enjoy checking it yourself:

And here is another one from Montreux, this time from 1989: The man with the Flying V, Albert King. Playing with Albert are Amar Sundy (guitar); Nate Fitzgerald, Steve Wilson, Wayne Preston (horns); James Washington (keyboards); Lonnie Turner (bass); Joe Turner (drums) (Thanks, Marc D.!)

 

And finally from Chicago here is Otis Rush, filmed in an unidentified venue somewhere in  Switzerland around 1986 (not from Montreux  as far as I can see). Otis is playing with Professor’s Blues Revue: Professor Eddie Lusk (keyboards), Anthony Palmer (guitar), Fred Barnes (bass), Eddie Turner (drums). (Thanks to Mark D. for information!) Beware though: It takes a while before Mr. Rush appears.

Enjoy!

The ominous Rashied Ali at the Boltax LP

Posted in documents, Photographs, Rashied Ali with tags , , , , , , , on June 28, 2014 by crownpropeller

In this post, I presented documents of a concert by the Rashied Ali Quartet 1979  in N.Y.C. The gig was taped and photographed by my friend, the late jazz researcher Otto Flückiger. Among the things I presented is a 27 minute audio excerpt in so and so quality.

A few days ago, I noticed a sudden increase in people interested in that blog post, and wondered why this would be so. So while googling for “Rashied Ali” and “Boltax”, I found, that some *[&**!! has loaded down that mp3, as well as some of the photos from my blog post and made a “limited edition LP” of supposedly 45 pieces out of it. Some “nightshift” pressing maybe?

Now one of these found a buyer who was willing to pay over hundred dollars for it.

boot jpg

I have to say that I find this a bit shabby. Of course one can argue that this blog here might be acting immoral as well. After all I have been presenting music here which I do not really have the rights to present. But I am never offering any music that is legally vailable, nor would I ever try to earn any money on a musician’s back. Up to now I only had positive responses from musicians or from relatives of deceased musicians to what I do.

SO THIS IS TO LET YOU ALL KNOW THAT NEITHER  I NOR THIS BLOG NOR LITTLE ROCKET RECORDS HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS RECORD!

I know how attractive things like this are (limited! only 45 copies!), but I encourage anyone to think twice before bidding on this thing. You can have the music here for free. Of course: Rashied Ali’s estate does not profit from the music presented here. But if it does not, I think no-one should.

I am 99  percent sure that the mp3 from my old blog post is the source for this LP, but I have not yet seen a copy of the record. Does anyone own it and can confirm that it’s about 27 minutes long?

 

Thanks!

 

Sun Ra and the hot chicks!

Posted in documents, jazz, Sun Ra with tags , , , , on June 15, 2014 by crownpropeller


A while ago while searching for hot girlie magazines Sun Ra related items on ebay I was surprised that the March 1969 issue of Swank magazine showed up in my search.

swank_cover

Sex and space music: “Swank”, March 1969

I have applied a little censorship to the mag’s front page here as this blog might be visited by minors. Also, the woman pictured on the cover might not be happy to see herself dressed that way again.

I bought the magazine because I was very much curious what space jazz master Sun Ra was doing in between the “Teen-Age Sex Queen Of Sweden” and “Love Potions And Aphrodisiacs!”.  Adding to my curiousity was the fact that being from March 1969 (the “Rolling Stone” with the Sun Ra cover shot of  was the April 1969 issue) this must be a quite early mention of Ra in an US-wide distributed non-specialist magazine. So what’s inside?

Continue reading

Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Sardegna 1974

Posted in Art Ensemble Of Chicago, clips, Free Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2014 by crownpropeller

Listening to a lot Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylot at home, I usually do not agree with people who say that Free Jazz is something only to be enjoyed at concerts because seeing the musicians helps you to understand what they are up to.  It was always different for me with the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. Although I have a few records by the AEOC, they never touched me in a way nearly every Sun Ra album does. This is a band where in my regard the visual element is missing when you hear a recording.

It is hard too find much pre-1980 footage of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. So I am very lucky to have found over 46 minutes of Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors and Don Moye at a Jazz Festival in Sardegna in 1974 on one of Otto Flückiger’s old VHS-cassettes. which I am presenting you here.

Enjoy!

Stan Getz in Lugano 1989

Posted in clips, jazz, Stan Getz with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2014 by crownpropeller

stanStan Getz in Lugano, 1989

 

Sometimes you just have to give up. Already a while ago I found in Ottos Flückiger’s collection a VHS cassette featuring about 45 minutes of Stan Getz’ appeareance at the Estival Jazz Lugano in 1989. Unfortunately picture and sound were absolutely out of synch. When I fixed the start of the sound to the start of the movie, it sounded quite right at first. But this went along well only for the first ten minutes. After that the pictures move slower than the sound, then suddenly they run faster again. Fixing this would just be too much work for me.

In the fine ten minute portion I could restore, you’ll hear and see Stan accompagnied by Kenny Barron (p), Yasuhito Mori (b) and Ben Riley (dr) playing Kenny Barron’s “Feijoada” (Thanks, Ehsan!). A Feijoada by the way is a very tasty thing, just ask any Brazilian.  I once had the pleasure to be invited to a Feijoada dinner – lots of stuff with a hearty taste! Unfortunately the theme reprise for this Feijoada here is missing, the sound goes totally out of synch before the tunes comes to its end, so I cut it off.

 

Enjoy!

 

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