Tyler Mitchell Octet - Sun Ra's Journey

Album of the Week, 09-05-23

Tyler Mitchell Octet – Sun Ra’s Journery ft. Marshall Allen
Cellar Music Group + Smalls Live Foundation

Sun Ra’s Journey from the Tyler Mitchell Octet signals listeners to begin their own happy joy dance. Recorded live at Smalls Jazz Club in August 2021, the music is an animating run through six familiar Sun Ra compositions, plus plenty of surprises.

Tyler Mitchell is a Ra alumnus who can be heard on the Black Saint recordings Hours After (1989) and Reflections In Blue (1987), Live In Kalisz 1986 (Lanquidity Records, 2019) and the 1986 studio session Prophet (Modern Harmonic, 2022). He was also a member of Arthur Taylor’s Wailers in the 1990s. After a hiatus from the American scene, he returned as a member of the Spike Wilner Trio and reconnected with Sun Ra’s Arkestra, now under the direction of Marshall Allen. Mitchell can be heard on Live At Babylon (In+Out, 2015) and Swirling (Art Yard/Strut, 2020).

This session was part of the Smalls LIVE Living Masters Series and it honors both Mitchell and the then 97 year old maestro Marshall Allen. The two had previously released the excellent Dancing Shadows (Mahakala Music, 2021) with tenor saxophonist Chris Hemingway, alto saxophonist Nicoletta Manzini, drummer Wayne Smith, and percussionist Elson Nacimento. Here they augment that sextet with trumpeter Giveton Gelin, a second percussionist Ron Mcbee, and pianist Farid Barron.

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Each week, WDNA music director, Michael Valentine shares his album of the week. Michael’s picks often focus on new jazz releases, but sometimes dip into history with notable and classic releases worth revisiting.

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