Founded by Village Voice icon Greg Tate and co-led with monster bassist Jared Michael Nickerson since 1999, Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber is a sprawling band of musicians whose prodigious personnel allows them to freely juggle a wide swath of the experimental soul-jazz-hip hop spectrum.
Burnt Sugar was originally conceived as a forum for the New York area improvisational musician to compose, record and perform material which reflects the breadth and depth of American diasparan music in the 21st century. The intent of the Arkestra Chamber, through the deployment of Butch Morris’s conduction system, is to make every performance a fresh interpretation of its constituent parts.
Rather than limit ourselves to the straight jackets that the commercial recording industry uses to market contemporary Black Music, Burnt Sugar freely moves amongst many styles, eras and genres to devise its own exciting hybrids. These hybrids are based on a solid foundation of various musical traditions and the use of cutting-edge music technology. In this sense the group mission honors its deepest inspirations, the first post-modernists of American music – Duke Ellington, Sun Ra, Parliament Funkadelic and The Art Ensemble of Chicago.
This very accomplished crew has playing credits that range from Melvin Van Peebles, Toshi Reagon, DJ Logic, Gary Lucas, TV On The Radio, Tamar Kali, Phish, William Parker, Liz Wright, The Holmes Brothers, Wadada Leo Smith, The The, David Murray and Joseph Bowie.
Arkestra Conductor Greg Tate says, “Burnt Sugar got the nerve to claim Sly Stone, Morton Feldman, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and Jean Luc Ponty as progenitors. Our player-ranks include known Irish fiddlers, AACM refugees, Afro-punk rejects, unrepentant beboppers, feminist rappers, jitterbugging doowoppers, frankly loud funk-a-teers and rodeo stars of the digital divide.”
Greg Tate: conduction, guitar, laptop
Karma Mayet Johnson: poet, vocals
Mikel Banks: vocals
Shelley Nicole; vocals/percussion
Julie Brown: vocals
Lewis Flip Barnes: trumpet
Avram Fefer: tenor sax
‘Moist’ Paula Henderson: bari sax
Micah Gaugh: alto sax, vocals
Ben Tyree: guitar
Bruce Mack: keyboard, vocals
Leon Gruenbaum: keyboards
Val Jeanty: eletronics, percussion
Christopher Eddleton: drums
Jason Di Matteo: acustic bass
Jared Michael Nickerson: electric bass