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Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber: Paint the Sky Red

Greg Tate’s Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber

In September of 1999, author, critic and Black Rock Coalition co-founder Greg Tate had the notion to form a new band that captured some of what he calls “the extreme kind of Stygian darkness and gnarly, Abyssinian, evil-sounding vibe and crusty, Jurassic, tectonic funk of Miles Davis’ Dark Magus and Agharta bands.” A volatile outfit comprised of three guitars with rhythm section, Burnt Sugar played its earliest gigs at alternative-rock emporiums like CBGB, featuring Tate wailing away on his ax with Pete Cosey-like abandon.

Evolving over time into a sprawling ensemble that took its cues from Sun Ra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Parliament-Funkadelic, as well as Jimi Hendrix and electric Miles, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber has now expanded to 15 to 20 musicians with a four-piece horn section and a full complement of vocalists. And auteur Tate has traded his guitar for a baton, following in the footsteps of “conduction” maestro Lawrence “Butch” Morris.

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