Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Allen, Marshall , alto saxophone, flute, clarinet, oboe, Kora, and E.V.I.(Electronic Valve Instrument), composer; b. Louisville, Kentucky 25 May 1924. Allen is the son of Nathan and Mamie Allen, brother to Nathan Allen of Anchorage Alaska, Marie Rose in Chicago, Barthinia of Las Vegas, Freda in Seattle Washington, and Louise, Nuncia and Margaret (all deceased).
He started clarinet lessons at age 10. At age 18 he enlisted in the US Army's 92 Infantry (known as the Buffalo Soldiers), playing clarinet and alto sax in the 17 Div. Special Service Band. Stationed in Paris during WWII, he played with pianist Art Simmons, Don Byas and in 1949 with James Moody. Upon discharge, he enrolled in the Paris Conservatory of Music studying clarinet with Delacluse. Returning to the States in 1951, he settled in Chicago where he led his own bands playing the clubs and dance halls while writing his own music and arrangements. During the mid-50's he met Sun Ra and became a pupil of Ra's precepts. Along with John Gilmore and later June Tyson and James (Jac) Jacson, Allen lived, rehearsed, toured and recorded (his first sessions are dated in late 1957 or early 1958) with Sun Ra's Arkestra (and other projects) almost exclusively, playing lead alto and other instruments. While with Ra he invented a woodwind instrument he called the 'morrow' which utilized a saxophone mouthpiece attached to an open-holed wooden body. (This instrument is currently being marketed under another name, as he never secured a patent on his invention.)
Allen, who has long been interested in world music, also worked with Olutunji, and builds and plays the African Kora. He also appeared in concert or on recordings with NRBQ, Phish, Sonic Youth, Diggable Planets, and Medeski, Martin And Wood. He has directed the Arkestra since 1995, and resides at the Sun Ra Residence in Philadelphia, composing, writing and arranging new music for the Arkestra, and maintaining the residence as a living museum. He also gave a solo concert in London in 1995, a duet concert with Terry Adams in 1997 in Canada, gives radio and TV interviews, and presents Master Classes, lectures and demonstrations of Sun Ra's ideas.
James Moody: Hot House (listed as "Red" Allen)(1949); Paul Bley: Barrage (1964);
Sun Ra: Virtually all of Ra's recordings, and of the group's since Ra's death
Ted Fiofori: Right Sound at the Right Time, in: Melody Maker, 27.Mar.1971
Ted Fiofori: Les premiers satellites. Marshall Allen, in: Jazz Magazine, #196 (1972)
Edwin Pouncey: It makes Booomph! Marshall Allen, in: Resonance, 4/1 (Oct.1995)
Christian Broecking: Sun Ra Arkestra 1996, in: Jazzthetik, 10/10 (Oct.1996)
Also Jazz Times 12/02
Signal to Noise magazine
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