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På skive

TYLER MITCHELL FEATURING MARSHALL ALLEN

«Dancing Shadows»
MAHAKALA MUSIC, MAHA-020

American bassist Tyler Mitchell is a disciple of Donald Rafael Garrett and Malachi Favors (of the Art Ensemble of Chicago fame) and has worked with Art Taylor’s Wailers and with Jon Hendricks, Shirley Horn, and George Coleman. Tyler and the 97-years-old musical director of the Sun Ra Arkestra Marshall Allen go way back, and way out. Tyler joined the Sun Ra Arkestra in the mid-1980s (check «Reflections in Blue» and «Hours After», Black Saint, 1987 and 1989), and rejoined the Arkestra in the last decade. «Dancing Shadows» reflects Tyler and Allen’s love and inspiration for the one and only Sun Ra.

«Dancing Shadows» suggests Tyler’s personal abstraction of the current, eclectic spirit of the Sun Ra Arkestra under the leadership of Allen, covering all facets of jazz in the last century, from swing to free jazz, from standards to free improvisation. The album revolves around Sun Ra compositions, most are from the early days of the Arkestra like «Interstellar Low Ways», «Angels & Demons at Play», «Dancing Shadows», «Carefree», «Enlightenment» and «A Call for All Demons», plus Thelonious Monk’s «Skippy» and originals by alto sax player Nicoletta Manzini, one of Allen’s proteges, and Tyler himself.

Tyler does not attempt to follow Sun Ra’s arrangements but offers fresh versions of its own, rooted more in the blues and hard bop legacy but with greater degrees of freedom, and colored with otherworldly tones courtesy of Allen’s EVI. Allen – «Marshall the Deputy», as one of Tyler’s compositions is titled after Sun Ra’s play on words about Allen – played like he always played, improvising on the spot and messing things up if any song sounded too nice or clean, as he does not believe that there are wrong notes. Allen pushes Tyler’s band outside of its hard bop comfort zones into cosmic freedom and sonic textures from deep space. But at the same time, Tyler’s band anchors Allen’s wild flies into a strong, cohesive sound and irresistible, hypnotic grooves. And it is always great fun to listen to fresh versions of Sun Ra’s classics like «Enlightenment», «Interstellar Low Ways» and the title piece. Needless to say, Allen is still a great marshall and a natural leader who still can ignite any outfit into fiery commission in an instant, but also play beautiful, heartwarming solos on touching ballads.

Eyal Hareuveni     

Marshall Allen (as, EVI), Tyler Mitchell (b), Chris Hemmingway (ts), Nicoletta Manzini (as), Wayne Smith (dr), Elson Nascimento (perc) 

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