Build an Ark is a Los-Angeles-based transcultural and intergenerational musical collective that was founded in 2001 as a pacifist response to the September 11 tragedies in New York City. The group took its name in honor of Sun Ra's Arkestra, though they ascribe more to Ra's concept of "Arkestry" -- that music has the power to alter the destiny of people's lives -- rather than musically. Directed by DJ, producer, and arranger Carlos Niño, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and musical director Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and veteran vocalist and composer Dwight Trible, Build an Ark focused its ensemble work on writing and interpreting message-oriented compositions that dealt with awakening the positive aspirations in its listeners emotionally, spiritually, and morally. Playing a meld of 21st century soul, spiritual jazz, poetry, modern improvisational and classical, and even cosmically inspired pop, Build an Ark's members included Michael White on violin, Phil Ranelin, Derf Reklaw, and Tracey Wannomae, among others.
The band released its debut 12", "Peace with Every Step," followed by an album of the same name in 2004 on the Kindred Spirits imprint. They issued a cover of Pharoah Sanders' "You Gotta Have Freedom" as a 12" on the Japanese P-Vine label in 2005, an EP of remixes on Plug Research, and the Free Spirits Presents Acknowledgment: For J.C. 10" in 2006. The single "Dawn" appeared in early 2007, followed by the album of the same name later in the year on Kindred Spirits (all subsequent releases have appeared on that Netherlands-based indie). Both albums and each subsequent single and EP release were greeted with near-synonymous critical acclaim: as a result, the collective began to garner an international following and toured on both sides of the Atlantic, playing everything from club gigs to festivals. Dawn was followed by the Sunshine EP and another collection of remixes. Build an Ark's next full-length Love Part 1, appeared in 2009; Love Part 2 -- recorded during the same sessions as its predecessor but with a completely different musical focus -- was released in 2010. ~ Thom Jurek