Swirling (Strut)

Sun Ra Arkestra 

Released October 30, 2020

Jazziz Best Albums of 2020

JazzTimes Top 10 New Jazz Releases of 2020






The planets align as the mighty Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of the maestro Marshall Allen, are releasing their first studio album in over twenty years, ‘Swirling’.
“We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration,” states saxophonist Knoel Scott. “We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.”
“This new release is the Arkestra’s love offering to the world,” concludes Marshall Allen. “Beta music for a better world.”
Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, the new recording represents the continuation of a heartfelt rebirth of the Arkestra under Allen’s guidance since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, gaining new generations of followers from their regular touring across the globe. With a big band line-up featuring long-standing Arkestra members including Danny Ray Thompson (RIP), Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Knoel Scott, Cecil Brooks, Atakatune (RIP), Elson Nascimento and Tyler Mitchell, the album is a full-blooded celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy.

Track Listing:

1. Satellites Are Spinning/Lights on a Satellite (Sun Ra) 08:00

2. Seductive Fantasy (Sun Ra) 11:49

3. Swirling (Marshall Allen) 07:41

4. Angels and Demons at Play (Sun Ra) 07:05

5. Sea of Darkness/Darkness (Sun Ra) 05:15

6. Rocket No. 9 (Sun Ra) 04:59

7. Astro Black (Sun Ra) 04:50

8. Infinity/I’ll Wait for You (Sun Ra) 09:18

9. Unmask the Batman 4:28

10. Sunology (Sun Ra) 04:25

11. Queer Notions 5:39

12. Space Loneliness 12:06

13. Door of the Cosmos/Say (Sun Ra) 07:27


Marshall Allen: alto saxophone, EVI
Knoel Scott: alto saxophone
James Stewart: tenor saxophone, flute
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone saxophone, flute
Michael Ray: trumpet
Cecil Brooks: trumpet
Vincent Chancey: french horn
Dave Davis: trombone, vocals
Farid Barron: piano
Dave Hotep: guitar
Tyler Mitchell: bass
Wayne Anthony Smith, Jr.: drums
Elson Nascimento: Surdo drums, percussion
Stanley “Atakatune” Morgan: congas
Tara Middleton: vocals, violin

Recorded and Mixed at Rittenhouse Soundworks, Philadelphia, by Peter Tramo
Mixed by Michael Richelle with thanks to Michael Ray and Dilip Harris
Production and Mix Supervision: Jim Hamilton


Sun Ra Arkestra’s first studio album in 20 years is an inspired tribute to the master Sun Ra, revisiting some of the most celebrated works of the fabled ensemble’s repertoire. The “swirling” music of the record was arranged by the great Marshall Allen, now 96 years old, blending jazz tradition with the same forward-thinking mentality that has characterized the Arkestra for decades, as well as their trademark space-age motifs.

Matt Micucci (Jazziz)