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Celebrating Sun Ra at the Painted Bride Art Center

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The Warriors of the Wonderful Sound and the Sun Ra Centennial Arkestra The Painted Bride Art Center “Still the New Thing" Philadelphia, PA April 19, 2014 This concert concluded a tripartite series curated by saxophonist, band leader, and composer/arranger Bobby Zankel entitled “Still the New Thing" honoring three icons of avant- garde jazz: Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra on the occasions of their birth dates and anniversaries of key events in their careers. Sun Ra's belief that he was from another planet, his frequent changes of personality and personnel, and ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Sun Ra: Jazz in Silhouette

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"A Certain Beat A Sudden Chord These things charm the mind with veiled enchantment That lingers long after the song is done" As with many cult artists, the back catalogue of Sun Ra is long and varied with large, less than bitesize chunks available for consumption if you so desire. Many of Sun Ra's LPs have been re-issued on vinyl, and to anyone curious about Sun Ra (and let's face it--who isn't curious about a man who claimed he came from Saturn) knowing where to start listening is a problem. It was ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Sun Ra Arkestra at the Victoria Theater

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Sun Ra Arkestra Victoria TheaterSan Francisco, CAAugust 3, 2013A line of jazz fans snaked around the block from the front of the iconic Victoria Theater, centrally located on 16th Street in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District, halfway down Capp Street. The crowd spanned age, gender and race; the buzz remained palpable despite the fact that the parents the majority of ticket holders would not have even met all those decades ago when the headliner played its first gig. “I saw them 18 years ago in Philadelphia, they were awesome," a 30-something female declared. ...

HARDLY STRICTLY JAZZ

Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed Vol. 1

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Author's note: Michael Ricci has ordained me with the power to come to you once a month and throw a little information your way. A lot of great music falls through the cracks, often enough because the people who make it don't live comfortably in some nice categorical box. If you're someone who prefers music to categorical boxes, this column is dedicated to you.I'm starting things off with a look into a document that embodies the great American pioneering spirit. I hope this sets the tone for a look into some very rewarding music that doesn't get its ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Sun Ra: Interviews & Essays

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Sun Ra: Interviews & EssaysJohn Sinclair, editorSoftcover; 256 pagesISBN: 9781900486729Headpress2010 In a jazz world full of colorful characters, nobody shines as brilliantly as keyboardist and bandleader Sun Ra (1914-93). Born Herman Blount in Alabama, Ra demonstrated musical talent and aptitude for hard work from an early age. Despite health problems and run-ins with the United States military, his jazz career slowly blossomed, and from 1947-49 he landed a plum role as arranger for the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. According to John Szwed's excellent biography Space Is ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Sun Ra: College Tour Vol. 1

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Sun Ra College Tour Vol. 1ESP Disk2010 There is nothing quite as breathtaking as one of the early recordings of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. After his explosive and historic recordings The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Vol. IVol. II were first released in 1965 and 1966, modern music was never the same. It is, in fact, debatable that guitarist Jimi Hendrix was an early acolyte, as were so many musicians of the new wave who emerged after Ra. None had his antecedents--none had descended from the Egyptian pantheon, that is--none had his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra Arkestra: Live At The Paradox

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Few groups have travelled as far--cosmically and musically--as the Sun Ra Arkestra. While Ra's Saturnian schtick brought him great attention and notoriety, his music goes well beyond that one area. The roots of swing, bop-leaning sounds, extra-terrestrial experimentalism and free jazz of the most ferocious kind are all part of Ra's repertoire. Ra departed planet Earth in 1993, but the Arkestra soldiered on under the direction of longtime saxophonist John Gilmore. When Gilmore passed away in 1995, the torch was passed to saxophonist Marshall Allen, who guided the group into the new millennium. In ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Sun Ra Arkestra: Sunrise In Different Dimensions

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Sun Ra ArkestraSunrise In Different DimensionshatOLOGY2010 (1980)

Sun Ra's discography is so vast, and its entry points so varied, that the late pianist and bandleader means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For most, Ra is probably best known for orchestral performances of his space-related, inside/outside, original compositions. And if that's your bag, you'll find plenty to love on this reissued live recording, which features 71:04 minutes of selections from a two-set gig in Willisau, Switzerland in 1980.

But check the track listing. Five of ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Sun Ra Arkestra: Secrets Of The Sun & Live At The Paradox

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Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra Secrets Of The Sun Atavistic 2009 Sun Ra Arkestra Live At The Paradox In and Out Records 2009

In a world beset by economic crises, the continued existence of the Sun Ra Arkestra for over 55 years outside the mainstream is nothing short of miraculous and testament to the enduring vision, charisma and determination of the man from Saturn. Since Ra left the planet in 1993, surviving ...

LIVE REVIEWS

The Sun Ra Arkestra at Cafe Oto, London

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Sun Ra Arkestra Cafe Oto London, England 14 April 2010

A fantastic atmosphere enveloped Dalston's Cafe Oto with whoops and shouts of affirmation greeting every inflection and chant as the Sun Ra Arkestra launched into “Interplanetary Music," with vocal interjections erupting from all corners of the bandstand. With their colorful kaleidoscopic costumes, Cafe Oto decked out with extra lights and a spangly backdrop, and infectiously joyful music, it was impossible not to beam with pleasure at the almost overwhelming spectacle. Twelve musicians crammed into the stage area and the full house audience packed ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Sun Ra Quartet in Italy, 1978

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The poet T.S. Eliot said “Mankind cannot take too much reality." Some people feel the same about keyboard player, bandleader and composer Sun Ra. Approaching Ra's output, both concert and studio recordings, can be daunting even for the initiated. Because the music was originally released in haphazard fashion, and has gone in and out of print on often obscure labels, it may seem near impossible to keep track of, let alone wrap your mind around. Some believe the work is best taken in small increments, and helpful insight into what the master was up to can be found in a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra: Sun Ra (featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold)

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The event was billed as Four Days in December, and on the last four days of 1964, Judson Hall in New York City was witness to a torrent of free jazz. The series of concerts featured Cecil Taylor,Bill Dixon, Archie Shepp, Paul Bley, John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd and, perhaps fittingly enough on New Year's Eve, the Sun Ra Arkestra.

The Arkestra was without regular tenor saxophonist John Gilmore. His place was filled by Farrell Sanders who changed his name to Pharoah Sanders at the suggestion of Sun Ra. Flautist Black Harold (Harold Murray) was also in the band. ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Sun Ra

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Sun Ra and his Arkestra New Horizons Fresh Sound 2009 Sun Ra Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold ESP Disk 2009 Sun Ra Live at the Electric Circus/Newport Jazz Festival Transparency 2008 Sun Ra Live in Cleveland Leo Records 2009 Sun Ra and his Solar Orchestra On Jupiter Art Yard 2009

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra: Sun Ra Featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold

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Sun Ra featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold is a near mythical document of the astral traveling Arkestra. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, this recording came a year before the now historic and certainly definitive Arkestra records, Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 1 & 2 (ESP, 1965) and Magic City (Saturn, 1965) that came hot on the heels of the ESP release. Secondly, the recording feature 45 minutes of unreleased material pertaining to a breathtaking concert presented by the Jazz Composers' Guild at Judson Hall, NY in December 1964. Also, it is here that Pharoah Sanders (correctly identified at the ...



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