Founded by Village Voice icon Greg “Ionman” Tate and co-led with Dayton Ohio monster groove bassist Jared Michael Nickerson since 1999, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, also known as the Burnt Sugar Arkestra is a sprawling band of musicians whose prodigious personnel allows to freely juggle a wide swath of the experimental soul-jazz-hip hop spectrum.
As Tate likes to say “The Burnt Sugar Arkestra is also a territory band, a neo-tribal thang, a community hang, a society music guild aspiring to the condition of all that is molten, glacial, racial, spacial, oceanic, mythic, antiphonal and telepathic.”
This very accomplished crew has playing credits that range from Cecil Taylor, Toshi Reagon, Charlie Musselwhite, DJ Logic, John Paul Bourelly, Gary Lucas, TV On The Radio, Tamar Kali, Phish, James Blood Ulmer, William Parker, Mark Ribot, Lizz Wright, The Holmes Brothers, Lady Kier, Vernon Reid, Thurston Moore, Wadada Leo Smith, David Murray, Arto Lindsey, Joseph Bowie, The Roots and Marc Ribot.
With alumni that includes Matana Roberts, Vijay Iyer, Julia Kent, Graham Hayes, DJ Mutamassik, Okkyung Lee and Qasim Naqvi, Burnt Sugar’s prestigious personnel have released eighteen recordings on their labels Tru Groidd & Avant Groidd Musica defining the art of creating scripted-sounding improvisational acid-funk/rock & jazz with the use of Butch Morris’s “Conduction” System for Orchestral Improvisation in order to as Tate also says “keep it real, surreal, arboreal, aquatic, incendiary.”
The Burnt Sugar Arkestra has spent the last three years “caramelizing” the songbooks of Sun Ra, Fleetwood Mac, Rick James, Steely Dan, James Brown, Melvin Van Peebles, David Bowie, Miles Davis and Chuck Brown in venues as disparate as The Apollo Theatre, Sons d’hiver Festival in Paris France, NYC’s Rikers Island Prison, Cleveland Museum of Art, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Buffalo N.Y.’s Hallwalls Art Center, Philadelphia’s Painted Bride Art Center, Hartford CT’s Real Art Ways, N.Y.C.’s Joe’s Pub, Bryant Park & Lincoln Center.
With the live version featuring as many as 22 players at any one time, the stalwarts tend to include: vocalists Lisala, Karma Mayet Johnson, Shelley Nicole, Julie Brown and Latasha Nevada N. Diggs (vocals & effected vocals), Mikel Banks (vocals, conduction & freak-a-phone), Mazz Swift (violin & vocals), André Lassalle, Ben Tyree, Jimmy Lee (guitar), Lewis “Flip” Barnes (trumpet), Micah Gaugh (alto sax), V. Jeffery Smith & Avram Fefer (tenor sax), “Moist” Paula Henderson (baritone sax), Dave “Smoota” Smith & J.S. Williams (trumpet & trombone), Bruce Mack (synthesizer), Leon Gruenbaum (piano), Jason DiMatteo (acoustic & electric bass), Chris Eddleton, Amasa Bruce and Greg Gonzalez (drums) as well as occasional “special guests” like Vernon Reid (guitar), Maya Azucena, Abby Dobson (vocals), Marc Cary (keyboards), Thomas Sayers Ellis (spoken word) and our international family such as noted installation artist Satch Hoyt (flute & percussion) living in Berlin and Marque Gilmore ( drums & effected percussion ) living in Oslo — Oh yes the Arkestra Chamber is global like that!