Sun Ra

A journey by bike to Strawberry Mansion and the homes of Jazz legends Sun Ra and John Coltrane highlights the inequity of historic preservation in Philadelphia

Tasso Hartzog writes a street’s eye view of historic preservation inequities and imagines two possible outcomes to this ongoing tragic imbalance – an Afrofuturist vision where jazz lives on in preserved historic homes, and a realpolitik vision with sad consequences. On a recent Wednesday morning, I biked to...
Picture for A journey by bike to Strawberry Mansion and the homes of Jazz legends Sun Ra and John Coltrane highlights the inequity of historic preservation in Philadelphia

Birmingham artist collective to host birthday tribute for legendary bandleader Sun Ra

East Village Arts of Birmingham will host a birthday celebration and tribute to the late legendary bandleader and Birmingham native, Sun Ra. The event, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, will feature a performance from a local volunteer “Sun Ra Birthday Arkestra” --a nod to the late bandleader’s assembly of musicians-- and a community celebration (the arts center encourages guests to bring their own drinks and snacks).

Sun Ra house gains historic landmark status

The Arkestral Institute of Sun Ra (aka Sun Ra House), has been added to the city's Register of Historic Places, Pitchfork reports and The FADER has confirmed. Its landmarking will ensure it is maintained to historic preservation standards and out of the hands of speculative developers long after its current owner — Arkestra leader Marshall Allen — joins Ra on the astral plane.

“The possible has been tried and failed: now I want to try the impossible”: What Sun Ra can teach the climate movement

There has been a lot of speculation recently about where the climate movement goes next, from Rupert Read’s call for a ‘moderate flank’ to John Bellamy Foster’s call for an ‘Ecological Revolution’. Anthea Lawson, author of ‘The Entangled Activist’, recently tweeted “Am noticing there’s lots of people that Extinction Rebellion woke up to taking action on climate who are currently marking time, looking for the next thing. A bit like where you hop about waving hands to the quieter bit of a tune, waiting for the beat to drop and everyone will LET RIP”. In this blog I want to offer some thoughts on what that might look like, but from a perhaps unexpected direction, an obscure jazz artist who died almost 30 years ago, Sun Ra.

‘Attica’ Filmmaker Stanley Nelson Developing Documentary on Sun Ra (Exclusive)

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson, whose Attica is currently shortlisted for best documentary feature at the Academy Awards, has already identified his next project. Nelson’s Firelight Films is developing Sun Ra and the Roots of Afrofuturism, about the life, work and legacy of American jazz legend Sun Ra. Born Herman Poole Blount in 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama, Sun Ra claimed that he had been “teleported” to Saturn and espoused a theory of Blackness as the foundation of the “omniverse,” from the birthplace of civilization in ancient Egypt through the Space Age. He composed more than 1,000 jazz works, released more than 100 self-produced...

Song of the Day: Sun Ra and His Arkestra, “Enlightenment”

“Enlightenment,” co-written by Sun Ra and trumpeter Hobart Dotson, first appeared on Jazz in Silhouette (1959, Saturn). It was recorded during a historic 1959 session, which essentially marked the end of Sun Ra’s straight-ahead period in favor of a more idiosyncratic and adventurous musical exploration. With its ever-changing rhythm signatures and eclectic range of influences, “Enlightenment” encapsulates the dynamic energy of his interstellar Arkestra ensemble. It also quickly became one of the band’s staples.

Song of the Day: Sun Ra and His Astro Infinity Arkestra, “‘Round Midnight”

Sound Sun Pleasure!! is a much-loved early recording and an anomaly. The album is performed with his Astro Infinity Arkestra and it was recorded in 1959, during the same sessions that birthed Jazz in Silhouette and during their residency in Chicago. It remained unreleased until 1970. Whereas Jazz in Silhouette showcased Sun Ra originals, Sound Sun Pleasure!! is mostly made up of lush covers and is much more accessible to the less inclined towards the legendary bandleader’s more avant-garde leanings. The soulful version of Thelonious Monk’s “‘Round Midnight” that opens the record is sung by Hattie Randolph.
Berkeleyan Online

Black Cultural History at Cal: Sun Ra, James Baldwin, and More

A selection of speakers and cultural events that campus has played host to over the years. UC Berkeley has historically been a magnet for African American activists, artists, and thinkers but never more so than during the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. And with a little googling, many of these historical appearances can still be seen, heard, and savored online. In honor of the upcoming 45th annual Black History Month (February 2021), here’s a selection of Black speakers and cultural events that the Cal campus has played host to over the years.

New Sounds and some live Sun Ra

This week a selection of new releases together with a classic live performance from Sun Ra. There's music from David Sanford, Manny Kellough, Mauricio Rodriguez, The Heavyweights Brass Band, Avataar, Barry Deister and we're closing with some great improvisation from Tim Green and Massimo Magee. Playlist. David Sanford "Immersion" from...

Watch a Bryant Park concert of Craig Harris' Nocturnal Nubian Ball, which toasts the Afrofuturist legacy of Sun Ra

Craig Harris, the proudly uncategorizable trombonist and bandleader, served a brief but formative stint in the ranks of the Sun Ra Arkestra. That was some 45 years ago, when Harris was an up-and-comer in his early 20s. He racked up his earliest recording credits on the Sun Ra albums Cosmos and Live in Montreux, learning valuable lessons not only from Ra himself but also from faithful acolytes like saxophonist Marshall Allen.
Colorado Springs Independent

Golden Dawn Arkestra worship at the altar of Sun Ra

With their glittering robes, bizarre masks, gaudy face paint and undulating dancers, it would be easy to dismiss Golden Dawn Arkestra as a novelty act, because of course they are. But there’s more to the avant-garde collective than meets the eye. Led by vocalist/saxophonist/organist Topaz McGarrigle (stage name Zapot Mgwana),...

Ten Essential Sun Ra Albums

Here are 10 key recordings plucked by Edwin Pouncey from Ra’s enormous discography that continues to yield up new discoveries and lost musical treasures to this day. Recorded at El Saturn Studio, Chicago, this album is generally considered to be one of Sun Ra’s best works from his period there. Since hailed as an overlooked masterpiece, Jazz In Silhouette perfectly encapsulates how the Arkestra would remain faithful to the jazz tradition of Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, but also be looking toward the future of the music they had studied and mastered under Ra’s precise tutelage. Replete with its distinctive cover art, depicting semi-naked space sirens levitating over a lunar landscape, here was jazz that looked and sounded alien (yet somehow strangely familiar) to a late 1950s audience – but stranger sounds were yet to come.