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Jazz Articles

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...


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