When jazz pianist, composer and iconoclast Sun Ra and his Arkestra moved to Philadelphia in the late 60s, they took up residence in the city’s Germantown section, living and practicing out of a house owned by the father of saxophonist and current Arkestra leader Marshall Allen. When Sun Ra arrived in Philadelphia, he encountered a city steeped in a rich history of “traditional” jazz. The sounds of be-bop, swing and hard bop lived in nightclubs and bars like Prince’s Total Experience right off of Broad & Hunting Park or Pep’s Lounge in South Philly.
In addition to the city’s “traditional” jazz sounds, Philadelphia was also home to a small cadre of young players and listeners who had embraced the avant-garde sound that Sun Ra and his Arkestra had gained infamy for. Amongst the hippies and progressives that lived in Germantown at the time, there were a host of creative musicians who sought to experiment and stretch the possibilities of jazz. Some of these young upstarts would join and play in Sun Ra’s Arkestra, others formed ensembles of their own. One of those ensembles, Sounds of Liberation would release one ultra-rare album New Horizons in 1972 before going dormant and reemerging nearly 5 decades later in 2019.
Last night at Union Transfer, Sounds of Liberation would make their return to the stage alongside The Sun Ra Arkestra in celebration of Marshall Allen’s 95th Birthday as well as the release of a newly-discovered full-length album of material. Continue reading →