Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen at 100

Sun Ra Arkestra Leader Mashall Allen Still Blowing at 100

Full Sun Ra Arkestra on stage at Union TransferSun Ra Arkestra leader Marshall Allen turns 100 today, May 25, 2024.  Since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, Allen has been leading this big band cosmic swing orchestra.  They have maintained and extended the original vision of Sun Ra in performances that are always riveting and always leaving you smiling.  On the eve of his 100th birthday, just saying that seems so surreal, Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra played a show at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. Stupidly, I did not attend. But one of my best friends and a member of Echoes’ Board of Directors, Gino Wong, did. In Facebook he wrote a touching tribute that I give you here.

Gino Wong, 5/24/2024
Tonight I went to Union Transfer in Philadelphia on the eve of Marshall Allen’s 100th birthday. I feel really lucky to have been able to give a gesture of love and respect to him and the Sun Ra Arkestra, still in operation, still pointing up there over there, hit that jive Jack. Showing us that Space Is the Place. Coming from my hometown, they have been a part of my life from the very first days when I was able to buy a Record. There isn’t anything else anywhere like the Arkestra save another little band called Gong. At 99.999 Marshall is still playing alto and EWI like an energetic young man. Avant-garde jazz is not everybody’s thing but it is something that is needed and that lovely dude fit the mission, draws acolytes and carries on.
Happy birthday to the Great Marshall Allen.

I echo those sentiments completely.

In 2007, I produced a documentary on Sun Ra for NPR’s Jazz Profiles. You can hear it here.

And here is a list of Ten Sun Ra Albums to Blow Your Mind

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