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JAZZMATAZZ

Sun Ra Nuclear War: A Smooth Soundtrack to the Apocalypse

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With threats of our impending doom through nuclear hellfire seemingly increasing by the day. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my favorite Sun Ra songs, “Nuclear War." A song so smooth and hilarious it almost makes you welcome the apocalypse. “Nuclear War" was released twice, initially on the 1982 album of the same name, and then a second time a year later on A Fireside Chat with Lucifer since on both ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium by John Corbett

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Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium John Corbett 264 Pages ISBN: #0822363666 Duke University Press Books 2017 John Corbett is a music critic, record producer, and curator. For twelve years--from 2000 to 2012--he wrote a column titled “Vinyl Freak" for Downbeat magazine, and those collected columns form the backbone of this book. Corbett wrote about out of print LPs in his extensive collection: ranging from the extremely obscure (and in a ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Calling Ra, Mr. Sun Ra your rocket ship is ready

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How prophetic is it that we now live in the second century of Sun Ra's earthly existence? Born (maybe) in Alabama 1914, Herman Poole Blount became the pianist, arranger, band leader, poet, and can we say prophet(?) we know as Sun Ra. He was both a man of his times and a messenger from the space. I say he was maybe born in 1914, because the person known as Sonny Blount claimed to have been abducted by space aliens in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra: The Intergalactic Thing

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If you are a Sun Ra devotee, let's not use the terms “fanatic" or “zealot," you probably measure your collection in board feet instead of inches. Unlike many jazz legends of the 1950s, and 1960s, Herman Sonny Blount had the foresight to record his ensemble's rehearsals and concerts. He even established his own label El Saturn Records in 1957. Yes, nineteen-fifty-seven, when other jazz giants were bound to onerous contracts with major labels, Ra was producing what we now have ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sun Ra Arkestra Under the Direction of Marshall Allen: Babylon

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If the recording Babylon is any indication, the second century of Sun Ra's music will be as entertaining as the first hundred years. Recorded live at Istanbul's Babylon Club in 2014, the full effect of Sun Ra's Arkestra is captured in all its glory with this CD and bonus DVD recording. The Arkestra has been under the direction of nonagenarian Marshall Allen since Sun Ra's death in 1993. Allen, an alto saxophonist and sideman to Ra since the ...

LIVE REVIEWS

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

The Rocket Ship Takes Off

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I have good news and bad news. The bad news is the big record companies are dead. The good news is the big record companies are dead. Gone are the days of Columbia Records signing trumpeter Wynton Marsalis to a million dollar contract and then promoting the hell out of his vision of jazz, selling his records and supporting his touring. While the major labels were reassessing all forms of music from pop to hip-hop, jazz slipped further and further ...


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