Tuesday, September 6, 2016

James Harrar and Marshall Allen at The Mammal Gallery, Atlanta, September 5, 2016

After an uncharacteristic six weeks of not experiencing any live music - no shows since the July 22 Swans' show at Terminal West - we've finally come to the end of the drought with a veritable deluge of good shows, starting with last night's performance at downtown's Mammal Gallery by James Harrar's Soloriens Native Unity Quartet, featuring Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Atlanta's The Convergence opened with a set of inspired improvisational jazz reminiscent of Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis.  The Convergence is Marquinn Mason on alto sax,  Rasheeda Ali on flute, Majid Araim on mandolin, Rafael Villanueva on guitar, Maxwell Boecker on bass, Zach Dawson on drums, and Paulino on percussion.   

In many ways, The Convergence stole the show.  I've never heard or seen them before last night, but damn, they are good.

We saw James Harrar and Marshall Allen perform last year as Cinema Soloriens, and this year they return backed by drums and bass as the Soloriens Native Unity Quartet.

At 92-years-old, Allen was a revelation, as spry and as energetic as during the Sun Ra years.  He really did most of the performing, carrying the evening on his back as it were, and unleashed some fiery solos that would have left a man half his age breathless.   

A lot of the evening was all just bloop and bleep, although the most stirring moments came when both men picked up their saxophones and squonked instead.  Here's a sample of the bloop:

Although Allen did the heavy lifting, Harrar contributed and also provided the projector show.  Sun Ra's legacy has nothing to worry about with Harrar's show, but the evening was worth it just to see living jazz legend Marshall Allen one more time, perhaps for the last time.

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