Archive for the Marshall Allen Category

Marshall Allen Magic Science Quartet : Oedipus/Edipo 2015

Posted in clips, Henry Grimes, jazz, Marshall Allen with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2015 by crownpropeller

allen_grimesHenry Grimes and Marshall Allen at Casa Torre
in Poschiavo, Switzerland on September 19, 2015.
Photo by Armin Büttner

When one of my co-workers told me that Marshall Allen and Henry Grimes along with drummer Avreeyl Ra and Cornelia Müller would be accompagnying a screening of Cornelia Müller’s silent movie “Oedipus/Edipo” at Casa Torre in Poschiavo, Switzerland it was clear I had to go. Poschiavo is a five hour train ride from here – but what a beautiful voyage.

Cornelia “KA” Müller’s movie “Oedipus/Edipo” is a reinterpretation of the ancient greek myth, filmed in the surroundings of colorful Poschiavo Valley featuring Butoh dancer Yoshihiro Shimomura in nearly all roles. You can read all about the movie here. And here is the official trailer:

I really liked the movie, especially when Yoshihiro Shimomura did the Sphinx . But in a way it seemed like drummer Avreeyl Ra  and Cornelia Müller herself playing piano where the only ones reacting to what happened on screen, whereas Marshall Allen and Henry Grimes were faced towards the audience. Somehow this left the music rather directionless. Here is a small excerpt from the Casa Torre screening (which of course does neither the movie or the musicians right):

After the movie was over, people had applauded and the lights had gone up again, the quartet started an encore of which I managed to capture a nice part on video with Marshall playing his EVI with Henry Grimes and Avreeyl Ra swinging behind him:

During the encore Allen also grabbed the alto saxophone to send the room off into space – something he had not done during the screening where he he had played EVI, Casio and Kora exclusively. I did not film his solo but captured the audio. Here it is with some pictures of the concert mixed with some shots of beautiful Poschiavo where the concert took place:


It was good to see that Marshall is still going strong (he’s 91 now!) and to hear that Henry Grimes plays so well. After the concert I bought Henry’s CD “The Tone Of Wonder” recorded in Poschiavo when he was artist in residence there in 2013:

2728821Here’s a nice review of it.

And of course after all was over girlfriend made a “snapshot with your superstar” photo of Marshall and me.

DSC_3502Clearly the taller person here needs a shave.

Two more shots  from the concert:

allen_grimes2 Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen at Casa Torre
in Poschiavo, Switzerland on September 19, 2015.
Photo by Armin Büttner

allen_grimes3 Henry Grimes, Marshall Allen and Avreeyl Ra at Casa Torre
in Poschiavo, Switzerland on September 19, 2015.
Photo by Armin Büttner


P.S.: There are still copies of the LP available, that my friend Hubi and me recorded with Marshall Allen and cellist Kash Killion in 2012 (see here and here).

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

Posted in 33 rpm, Free Jazz, jazz, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2015 by crownpropeller


Funny to see that some copies of the LP my friend Hubi and me produced with arkestral legend Marshall Allen and cellist / sarangi player Kash Killion are already selling for around 100 $. Funny because you can still order them direct from us for much less, as a few copies of this limited to 250 pieces LP are still available.

If you never heard about that LP, here is our sweet little promo clip again:

If you want to know more about this record check out my old blog entry here. Or have a look here.

There are bad news though: Because the swiss frank is no longer bound to the euro, we had to raise the prices partly. In Switzerland it’s still 35 Franks. For the rest of the world it’s either 35 Euro or 40 USD. Beware that swiss postal rates are very high, depending on where you are (20 Euro for europe, 36 $ for the rest of the world).

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this – very beautiful we think – record, contact me by writing a comment (which will not be published).

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


The Sun Ra Arkestra in Poschiavo 2012

Posted in clips, documents, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 29, 2012 by crownpropeller

I spent Wednesday and Thursday of last week with my friend Hubi and Hubi’s friend Dario in Poschiavo in the Graubünden part of Switzerland where the Sun Ra Arkestra under the leadership of  Marshall Allen supplied the on stage music for two theatrical plays at the Uncool Festival. I shot some video there – but in fact a lot of people did. So there is no need for me editing all this stuff now. Instead I have embedded some nice clips that I found on the youtube channel of local newspaper Giornale il Bernina. Here are some excerpts from the Wednesday evening performance of the play Oedipus: 

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