Knoel Scott & Marshall Allen


Night Dreamer • 2023

Knoel Scott and Marshall Allen are both members of the Sun Ra Arkestra. Allen, 99, took over in 1995 after the deaths of Sun Ra and, shortly after, John Gilmore. Knoel Scott, who composed most of this album, was a member from 1979 to 1981 and returned for good in 1988. Which means: Scott and Allen have been making music together for about 35 years, and you can really hear it on »Celestial«. Over the course of five tracks, the duo – who are responsible for all the wind instruments – cover a wide range of Afro-American jazz styles. Most impressive of all is the title track on which Scott sings for the only time to the gentle accompaniment of a piano: »In this world of change/there’s mystery/from some far place/it captured me«, he sings, among other things.  

Later, on the eleven-minute centrepiece, when Allen elicits buzzing, distant tones from his electric valve instrument and the drums, bass and piano pick up, slow down and pick up again, one buzzword inevitably comes up: Afrofuturism, but here combined on a textual level with Christian motifs, like angels with their faces turned towards the yawning chasm of space. Also great is »Makanda«, which is the most groovy of the tracks and oscillates between funk and breakneck blues. Two tracks, »Conversation With The Cosmos« and »Blues«, are based on improvisation under Allen’s direction. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, this is the place to be.