Friday was a quiet night in with Mrs. Backhouse - we just chilled in front of the telly and had a good catch up - it’s the backbone of our relationship - these quiet times - and it is an amazing thing that we still get to have them. I love my wife with all of my heart. She is someone very special to me - if I put in a bit more work she may reciprocate the sentiment ;-)
Saturday night and Allan’s studio, Creao, stank of Allan’s, Watson’s and my creative juices. We had everything flowing from premium lager to Dub Mixing. We are investigating getting Bitwig Studio for the band (Guerrilla Dub System) and we were trying to get that sorted. Then we had a live dub and a DJ sesh.
Sunday was spent getting ready for the evening. We met Karen & Stewart at the train station and were Leeds bound within minutes. The first stop was the restaurant Little Tokyo - the fun-size Japanese restaurant complete with Geisha dog - Bork Bork!
Me and Stewart had a pint of Asahi Beer and Kat went for a smaller lager - both were really palatable but what stole the show was Karen’s Plum Wine - it was like nectar! The main courses: we all ordered Bento Boxes on the advice of Stewart & Karen - I had Mackerel in Teriyaki sauce with Tempura veg - It was amazing! The highlight of the meal was the Japanese style profiteroles - Ice-cream deep-fried in batter on a skewer; although I think my wife won the pudding tournament with her marshmallow spring rolls - she claimed they were ‘genius’.
We then hot-footed it up to the Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen to see the world famous Sun Ra’s Arkestra!
I had been waiting around eight years to see this band live - whilst they did not have the man himself (he orbits a different star now) they were led by the spritely Marshall Allen, at 92 years young.
- Image first appeared in JazzIz Magazine
There seemed to be four surviving musicians from the Arkestra under Sun Ra in the early days of Space Jazz. Dozens of musicians—perhaps hundreds—passed through Sun Ra’s bands over the years. Some stayed with him for decades, while others played on only a few recordings or performances.
Sun Ra was personally responsible for the vast majority of the constant changes in the Arkestra’s lineup. According to contra-bassist Jiunie Booth, a member of the Arkestra, Sun Ra did not confront any musician whose performance he was unsatisfied with. Instead, he would simply gather the entire Arkestra minus the offending musician, and skip town—leaving the fired musician stranded. After repeated instances of U.S. jazz musicians becoming stranded in foreign countries, Sun Ra’s unique method of dismissal became a diplomatic liability for the United States. The U.S. State Department was compelled to tell Sun Ra to bring any fired musicians stateside rather than leave them stranded.
But, what was the experience of seeing Sun Ra’s Arkestra like for a fan-boy like myself? Well, it surpassed expectation. Hands down the best gig I have been to in years. Whilst I did not recognise all of the tracks that they played - seeing ninety year old’s dressed as Space Pharaohs lucidly conducting an Afro-Futurist ensemble was worth a trip out in anyone’s books.