This time without their maestro Marshall Allen at the helm, the Arkestra returned to London on their own to perform at the intimate The Forge venue, squeezing onto the small stage while their 99-year-old conductor took a break from touring.

They performed the saxophone waves of ‘Seductive Fantasy’ with an opening crash of the gong; brass streams and sparkling piano keys, later with guitar against the double bassline, before the “space is the place” vocals arrived. They moved onto ‘Dancing Shadows’ with its chaotic high-speed jazz rhythm, featuring loud bangs, whistles and pops like a firework factory going off.

The Arkestra then introduced ‘Angels and Demons at Play’ which Allen wrote the music for, jazz musician Ronnie Boykins wrote the bassline and Sun Ra wrote the words. It began with a flautist playing sharp, pressurised notes and dual vocals building to a noisy crescendo. The show ended on a duet of ‘Enlightenment’ from Sun Ra’s third 1959 studio album, ‘Jazz in Silhouette’, with its distinct brass trodden rhythm. They departed the stage in traditional fashion to ‘We Travel The Spaceways’.


10/08/23: Sun Ra Arkestra @ The Forge, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.