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Warriors of the Wonderful Sound & the Sun Ra Arkestra

Warriors of the Wonderful Sound & the Sun Ra Arkestra celebrate Cecil, Ornette and Sun Ra
Sat April 19th | 8pm
$20 in advance, $25 day of show | Members $15/$18.75
This show is available for Student Rush tickets. Click here to learn about our student rush program.

Bobby Zankel and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound: Bobby Zankel, alto saxophone |Julian Pressley, alto saxophone | Mark Allen, baritone saxophone| Josh Lawrence, trumpet | Stan Slotter, trumpet| Steve Swell, trombone| John Swana, trumpet| Diane Monroe, violin| Tom Lawton, piano | Anthony Tidd, bass| Craig McIver, drums| Francois Zayas, percussion

Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen

Ars Nova Workshop, the Painted Bride Art Center, and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound are pleased to present two exceptional Philadelphia big bands in celebration of the life and work of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra.

Originally from Brooklyn, Zankel was drawn to the saxophone by the thrilling new sounds being explored in the 1960s jazz scene, in particular the music of John Coltrane. He eventually studied with Cecil Taylor at the University of Wisconsin, after which he left school to continue those studies on the bandstand, following the iconoclastic pianist back to New York. Zankel became involved with the avant-garde jazz scene of the early 1970s, performing alongside the likes of bassist William Parker and violinist Billy Bang. In 1975, Zankel relocated to Philadelphia, where he’s remained since, becoming one of the leading lights of the local jazz community. “I’ve had such tremendous experiences and opportunities in Philadelphia,” Zankel says, citing his work with saxophonist Odean Pope, bassist Jymie Merritt, violinist John Blake, and singer Ruth Naomi Floyd, among others who make the city their home. But his most influential work has been his over ten years of composing for his long-standing big band.

The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound were first assembled in 2001 for a fledgling jazz festival and continued presenting Zankel’s heady, intricate compositions over the next decade at recently-shuttered club Tritone. For most of the big band’s existence, it was Zankel’s compositions alone that made up the Warriors’ repertoire. In 2009, however, the band performed the music of Julius Hemphill, leading Zankel to open up the band’s book to outside composers of a similar mindset. First Indian-American saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa and then M-Base founder Steve Coleman penned challenging suites for the ensemble, and in 2012, Zankel and Warriors collaborated with Muhal Richard Abrams.

As a young musician, Marshall Belford Allen (b. May 25, 1924) performed with pianist Art Simmons, Don Byas and James Moody before enrolling in the Paris Conservatory of Music. After relocating to Chicago, Allen became a pupil of Sun Ra, subsequently joining the Arkestra in 1958 and leading Sun Ra’s formidable reed section for the next 40 years. Marshall, along with John Gilmore, June Tyson and James Jacson, lived, rehearsed, toured and recorded with Sun Ra almost exclusively for much of Sun Ra’s musical career. As a member of the Arkestra, Allen pioneered the Free Jazz movement of the early sixties, having remarkable influence on the leading voices in the avant-garde. He is featured on over 200 Sun Ra recordings in addition to collaborations with Phish, Sonic Youth, Digable Planets and Medeski, Martin & Wood. Allen assumed the position of maestro in 1995, following the ascension of Sun Ra in 1993 and John Gilmore in 1995. Marshall continues to be committed to the study, research, and development of Sun Ra’s musical precepts and has launched the Sun Ra Arkestra into a dimension beyond that of mere “ghost” band by writing fresh arrangements of Sun Ra’s music, as well as composing new music and arrangement for the Arkestra. He works unceasingly to keep the big-band tradition alive.

Made possible with generous support from the Philadelphia Jazz Project. Additional support provided by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.