First Annual Benefit Honoring Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra
Blank Forms will honor the pioneering composer and bandleader Marshall Allen and the Sun Ra Arkestra at the first annual Blank Forms benefit, on September 12, 2017.
Founded in the mid-1950s, the Sun Ra Arkestra became the primary conduit through which polymath jazz composer, bandleader, pianist, poet and philosopher Sun Ra expressed his visionary perspective. Whether he was born in segregated Birmingham, Alabama or descended from Saturn, Sun Ra's mythology transposes the forced dislocation of the African diaspora from slave ship to spaceship, wielding technology and music as an instrument for utopian black interplanetary migration, with the Arkestra as its vehicle. Sun Ra's aesthetics straddle the ancient and the radical future, positioned between Egypt and the space age. Although he ranks among the earliest pioneers of the synthesizer and the free jazz revolution of 1960s Greenwich Village, Sun Ra's music has consistently maintained deference to the big band sound of its genesis.
When Sun Ra left planet Earth in 1993, his role as leader of the Arkestra was taken by John Gilmore before the latter's ascension in 1995, when Marshall Allen assumed its helm. An alto saxophonist, flautist, and electronic valve instrument player who joined the Arkestra in 1958, Allen lived, rehearsed, toured, and recorded with Sun Ra almost exclusively throughout his musical career. At age 93, Allen is the only living member of the Arkestra's original core group, but maintains that its current incarnation is no ghost band. To the contrary, for Marshall Allen, Sun Ra is not gone. Allen and other members of the Arkestra continue to live at the Sun Ra Residence in Philadelphia, the group's communal base of drug, alcohol and sex-free operations since 1968. There, Allen writes fresh arrangements of Sun Ra's tunes and composes new music for the Arkestra, committed to a life of discipline centered on the further development of Sun Ra's musical precepts. In today's political climate Sun Ra and the Akestras message feels more relevant than ever.
Blank Forms was founded in March 2016 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the presentation, promotion and preservation of time-based performance and experimental music. Our institution offers residencies, commissions new works, and creates original online and print publications that document and supplement artists practices, alongside a regular series of public performances and exhibitions. Our mission is to provide a comprehensive support structure for emerging and underrepresented artists of all ages and to engage in historic and archival research around influential artists who have had active, yet under-recognized careers. Blank Forms is a member of Common Practice NY and is W.A.G.E. certified. We are also 501(c)(3) certified as of September 2017.
The Blank Forms First Annual Benefit is open to the public with discounted entry for all members. Priority seating and tables of 10 are also available. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If youd like to become a member, please visit our website.
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