One Main Street
Winooski, Vermont

THE SUN RA ARKESTRA directed by Marshall Allen

Marshall Belford Allen, alto saxophonist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, and arranger, was born May 25, 1924 in Louisville, Kentucky and started clarinet lessons at age 10. At 18, he enlisted in the Army's 92nd Infantry (renowned as the Buffalo Soldiers), playing clarinet and alto saxophone in the 17th Division Special Service Band. Stationed in Paris during World War II, he played with pianist Art Simmons and saxophonist Don Byas, and he toured and recorded with James Moody during the late '40's. Upon honorable discharge, Mr. Allen enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music, studying clarinet with Delacluse. Returning to the States in 1951, Marshall settled in Chicago, where he led his own bands, playing in clubs and dance halls, while writing his own music and arrangements, as he continues to do today.

During the mid-'50's, Marshall met Sun Ra and became a student of his precepts. After joining the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1958, Marshall Allen led Sun Ra's formidable reed section for over 40 years (a role akin to the position of Johnny Hodges in the Duke Ellington orchestra). Marshall Allen lived, rehearsed, toured and recorded with Sun Ra almost exclusively for much of his musical career, leading the reed section during the time that the Sun Ra Arkestra won the "Downbeat" polls as number-one big band in 1988 and 1989. As a featured soloist with the Arkestra, Marshall pioneered the avante-garde jazz movement of the early '60's, expanding a style rooted in Johnny Hodges and Don Byas, and influencing all leading avante-garde saxophonists thereafter. During this time, Marshall also invented a woodwind instrument he called the "morrow," utilizing a saxophone mouthpiece attached to an open-hole wooden body. (This instrument is currently being marketed under another name, as Marshall never secured a patent on his invention).

Marshall Allen was one of the first jazz musicians to play traditional African music and what is now called "world music," working frequently with Olatunji and his Drums of Passion. In fact, Marshall is most likely the sole jazz musician who builds and plays the kora (a popular West African multi-stringed instrument), and he has been a major factor in its introduction to American audiences, as well as the world at large.

Marshall Allen is featured on over 200 Sun Ra releases, as well as appearing as special guest soloist in concert and on recordings with such diverse groups as NRBQ, Phish, Sonic Youth, Diggable Planets, Terry Adams, and Medeski, Martin & Wood.

Perhaps most significantly, Marshall Allen assumed the helm of the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1995 after the ascension of Sun Ra in 1993 and John Gilmore in 1995. Mr. Allen continues to reside at the Sun Ra Residence in Philadelphia, composing, writing and arranging for the Arkestra much like his mentor, totally committed to a life of discipline centered totally on the study, research, and further development of Sun Ra's musical precepts.

Electric Halo

Electric Halo explores the more ambient side of music and creates soundscapes blending electric guitar loops, delicate synth runs and experimental musical saw playing. The music, at times, goes from dark scary thematic to happy joyful unstructured and then back again. It has elements of the slightly familiar blended with the completely unimaginable.

The band came about in April of 2005. It was the idea of Burlington musicians Joe Adler and Johnnie Day. Both had played together in Joe?s acoustic project but found that the acoustic music could only go so far? Electric Halo was the next logical step. The first show was played in May at the Radio Bean and was just the 2 of them experimenting with original ambient compositions as well as covering music from Radiohead to Rogers and Hart. In the shows that followed the core was joined by different local guest musicians including Jonny Aquadora (from Magic Sparkle), Joe Adams (from Sons Of Dawn), Robbin Barker (from The Cosmic Matrix), and Jeff Campoli (from The Black Sea Quartet.) Each show has been a very unique experience.

The Higher Ground show will feature many guest musicians joining us including Electric Halo veterans Jeff Campoli, Robbin Barker and Jonny Aquadora. We will also have some new friends joining our ensemble including John Thompson-Figueroa from the Black Sea Quartet, Lee Anderson from cccome? and Mickey and Posey from the Mickey Western Band. We hope to transform the Higher Ground into an interstellar space traveling vehicle. Up and away.

Official Website:

Added by tbone_1972 on April 14, 2006

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