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Sun Ra

Sun Ra is an NEA Jazz Master

Eclectic, outrageous, sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. And well it should, since Sun Ra has been both apart of and ahead of the jazz tradition during that time. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the specific talents of his individual Arkestra members, and he has retained the services of some of these musicians to this day: John Gilmore, Marshall Allen, and Julian Priester for example since they first joined in the 1950's. On the other hand, Sun Ra was the first jazz musician to perform on electronic keyboards (56), the first to pursue full-scale collective improvisation in a big band setting, and his preoccupation with space travel as a compositional subject predated bands like Weather Report by about 15 years.All this from someone who refuses to even cite the earth as his home planet and prefers to have arrived from Saturn. As Sun Ra once explained it, "I never wanted to be a part of planet Earth, but I am compelled to be here, so anything I do for this planet is because the Master-Creator of the Universe is making me do it. I am of another dimension. I am on this planet because people need me".

Equally as mystifying is the fact that Sun Ra has no legal birth certificate. The Library of Congress claims that he arrived in Alabama, U.S.A., and his passport states that his legal name is Le Sony'r Ra, thus making all other names such as Sonny Lee, Sunni Bhlount, Armand Ra, and H. Sonne Bhlount merely pseudonyms.

In the 1940's Sun Ra became the house arranger for stage shows at the famous Chicago night spot, the Club DeLisa and played for the band led by Fletcher Henderson. Henderson was the arranger for the Benny Goodman Orquestra as well as his own and was a great inspiration to Ra who encouraged him to continue writing. In the early 50's, Ra's more radical compositions and arrangements found their way into his own groups which featured exotic costumes and unusual instruments.

By 1955 while in Chicago, Le Sony'r Ra had become "Le Sun Ra" or Sun Ra, leader of the Solar Arkestra which has also been known by many other names such as the Myth-Science Arkestra, the Solar Myth Arkestra, and the Omniverse Arkestra. In addition to saxophonists Gilmore and Allen, the band boasted a number of musicians who have contributed much to jazz, including bassist Richard Davis, trombonist Julian Priester, drummer Clifford Jarvis, and reedman James Spaulding. The Arkestra itself started as what was thought to be a hard-bop big band at the Grand Terrace and Birdland night clubs - a rare enough item - but soon was incorporating free improvisation. As such, it was a major influence on the emerging avant-garde jazz musicians in Chicago, such as Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

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9
Album Review

Sun Ra: At The Showcase (Live In Chicago, 1976-1977)

Read "At The Showcase (Live In Chicago, 1976-1977)" reviewed by Glenn Astarita


Embark on a cosmic odyssey with Sun Ra and his Arkestra as they unveil At the Showcase Live in Chicago 1976-1977, a celestial offering dripping with mystique and intrigue. This transcendent collection not only unveils previously unreleased tracks but also grants access to the legendary Showcase Lounge, overseen by the venerable Joe Segal. Complemented by a captivating booklet featuring insights from Marshall Allen and reflections from jazz luminaries like David Murray and Matthew Shipp, this album becomes a veritable treasure ...

3
Radio & Podcasts

The (Record Store) Day After - Part 2

Read "The (Record Store) Day After - Part 2" reviewed by Ludovico Granvassu


More un-earthed gems and special edition re-issues released for Record Store Day in this set, which also focuses on two wonderful Sun Ra tribute albums produced by the Red Hot Organization. Happy listening! Playlist Ben Allison “Mondo Jazz Theme (feat. Ted Nash & Pyeng Threadgill)" 0:00 Lettuce “VIBE" VIBE (Lettuce) 0:16 Host talks 6:10 Kenny Garrett, Svoy “Ascendence" Who Killed AI? (Mack Avenue) 7:48 Host talks 11:42 Brother Jack McDuff “[Untitled]" Ain't No Sunshine: Live ...

7
Album Review

Sun Ra: At The Showcase (Live In Chicago, 1976-1977)

Read "At The Showcase (Live In Chicago, 1976-1977)" reviewed by Troy Dostert


Describing the music of Sun Ra is always challenging--perhaps even more so when it is documented on a live recording. A case in point is this offering from the Jazz Detective label, a substantial slice of Ra taken from two concerts at Chicago's Jazz Showcase in the mid-'70s. It can be dense and opaque, even impenetrable at times. But it also swings mightily, with a generous big-band sound which should appeal to all but the most closed-minded jazz listeners. It ...

11
Album Review

Sun Ra: Interview With Charlie Morrow New York, 1989

Read "Interview With Charlie Morrow New York, 1989" reviewed by Chris May


This remarkable LP, released in a limited edition of just 425 copies, is a must-hear for Sun Ra obsessives (of which there are many of us). As an artefact of desire, it is up there with Harmut Geerken's monumental large-format hardback tome, Omniverse Sun Ra (Waitawhile Books, 1994). Interview With Charlie Morrow New York, 1989 chronicles a meeting between two singular individuals: Ra and the then New York-based sound artist, composer, conceptualist, performer and occasional prankster, Charlie Morrow. On March ...

9
Album Review

Sun Ra: Space Is The Place (Music From The Original Soundtrack)

Read "Space Is The Place (Music From The Original Soundtrack)" reviewed by Doug Collette


The outlandish persona Sun Ra created and maintained for himself over the years may sometimes distract from the adventurous intent of the music he made. Yet it is testament to his vigorous loyalty to both the music as means of communicating his cosmic ideology and the basic tenets of his unconventional means of creativity that neither theme intruded dangerously upon the other during the course of his sixty-some year career. In a fittingly limited edition run (for both ...

8
Album Review

Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Solar Arkestra: Space Is The Place (Music From The Original Soundtrack)

Read "Space Is The Place (Music From The Original Soundtrack)" reviewed by Mark Corroto


Do not expect The Criterion Collection to reissue the 1974 film Space Is The Place anytime soon. It is though, a cult classic in the truest sense of the word. Sun Ra and his Arkestra had been at the forefront of avant-garde music, developing and refining his vision since the 1950s. Today listeners are most likely acquainted with Ra's claims of being from Saturn and his mission to save our doomed planet. Back in the late 1960s and early 70s ...

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Liner Notes

Sun Ra at Inter​-​Media Arts, 1991

Read "Sun Ra at Inter​-​Media Arts, 1991" reviewed by Howard Mandel


On April 10, 1991, the night of this concert at Inter-Media Art Center in Huntington, Long Island, Sun Ra was near the apogee of his earthly transit. Having led his transformative iterations of his Arkestra around the globe for an unlikely if not unimaginable four decades, the visionary composer, keyboardist, conceptualist and cosmologist was, even though in recovery from a stroke, at the peak of his powers, two years from breaking free of his local orbit entirely. He ...

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1

Recording

Sun Ra Arkestra Veteran Drummer Wayne Smith, Jr. Releases 'Be Still,' A Powerful Venture In Emotion And Tranquility

Sun Ra Arkestra Veteran Drummer Wayne Smith, Jr. Releases 'Be Still,' A Powerful Venture In Emotion And Tranquility

Source: Outside in Music

Wayne Smith Jr. is a drummer, composer, and educator with a multifaceted palette of soundscapes and genres at his disposal. Having toured across three continents, performed throughout the New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. music scenes, and currently working as a staple member of the legendary Sun Ra Arkestra, Smith’s accolades rightly herald his abilities as a master craftsman of the drum set. Described as an “inventive drummer who displays an in-depth musical consciousness,” and who is “willing to embrace ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sun Ra's birthday today!

Eclectic, outrageous, sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. And well it should, since Sun Ra has been both apart of and ahead of the jazz tradition during that time. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sun Ra's birthday today!

Eclectic, outrageous, sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. And well it should, since Sun Ra has been both apart of and ahead of the jazz tradition during that time. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sun Ra's birthday today!

Eclectic, outrageous, sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. And well it should, since Sun Ra has been both apart of and ahead of the jazz tradition during that time. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the ...

1

Music Industry

Tony Adamo Receives Permission To Rename And Write Lyrics To A Future Sun Ra Song

Tony Adamo Receives Permission To Rename And Write Lyrics To A Future Sun Ra Song

Source: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

Tony Adamo wrote about and released music on Eddie Harris, B.B. King, Eddie Henderson, Art Blakey, James Brown, Mark Murphy, Eddie Gale, Jack Kerouac, and Sun Ra, the song entitled “Sun Ra Goes to Mars.” The Eddie Harris estate gave Adamo permission to write spoken word to his “Listen Here.” Adamo renamed it “Listen Here Listen Up.” Dave Davis and Michael Ray of the Sun Ra Arkestra have recorded music on Adamo's new soon to be released CD. Members of ...

1

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci

All About Jazz is celebrating Sun Ra's birthday today!

Eclectic, outrageous, sometimes mystifying but always imbued with a powerful jazz consciousness, the music of Sun Ra has withstood its skeptics and detractors for nearly three generations. And well it should, since Sun Ra has been both apart of and ahead of the jazz tradition during that time. Like Duke Ellington and swing-era pioneer Fletcher Henderson, Sun Ra learned early on to write music in an arranged form that showcased the ...

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci


1

Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci


Birthday

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Jazz Musician of the Day: Sun Ra

Source: Michael Ricci


3

Performance / Tour

Russia Welcomes Sun Ra - November 19 With The Jazz Drama Program Presentation Of "Message From Saturn"

Russia Welcomes Sun Ra - November 19 With The Jazz Drama Program Presentation Of "Message From Saturn"

Source: Scott Thompson Public Relations

Sun Ra Heads To Russia! Euro-Asian Premiere November 19, 2016 “Saxophonist Knoel Scott told me Sun Ra came into rehearsal and said, 'I just got a message from Saturn. We are not playing enough blues!' I thought about this for ten years, then joined up with Clifford Carlson to write this story." —Eli Yamin Eli Yamin and friends bring the Blues to Russia for the Euro-Asian premiere of Message From Saturn in Yekaterinburg on November 19! ...

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percussion
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band / ensemble / orchestra
Brent Bowman
saxophone, alto
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composer / conductor
Ignaz Schick
saxophone
Sarah James
vocals
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band / ensemble / orchestra
Eyal Netzer
saxophone
Illya Gomola
keyboards
Lyndon Owen
saxophone, tenor
Pasquale Calò
saxophone, tenor
Érick d'Orion
electronics
Christoph Gallio
saxophone, soprano
OTAKA
piano
Hill Collective
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