Marshall Allen / Sun Ra Arkestra

Live at the Paradox

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Sun Ra's Arkestra continued 15 years after the bandleader's death, led by his longtime alto saxophonist Marshall Allen and featuring a few other musicians who worked with Ra, including tenor saxophonist Charles Davis and surdo player Elson Nascimento, along with musicians who dug into Ra's alternately swinging, discordant, and at times bizarre music. But Allen doesn't lead a ghost band. He wrote four of the songs heard in this live performance, including the exploratory "Space Walk"; the loopy, dissonant ballad "You'll Find Me," which purposely sounds like it has been played by musicians who have been playing all night and show signs of weariness; and the whimsical bop vehicle "Millennium," with rapid-fire shrieks on alto sax à la Eric Dolphy and a campy vocal. Ra's songs are well represented, with the swinging "Dreams Come True" (highlighted by pianist Farid Barron), the strident post-bop "Velvet" (which showcases Davis ' robust tenor), and the wild finale of "Space Idol" (showcasing clashing brass and reeds battling it out over the steady rhythm section). The choice of Fletcher Henderson's "Hocus Pocus," played in a fairly straight-ahead manner, should be no surprise, as Ra worked for Henderson in the mid-'40s and enjoyed playing his compositions in his Arkestra concerts. Sun Ra fans will delight in the continuing saga of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

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