Considered the greatest and least known jazz artists of the last four decades Sun Ra was a musician, composer, bandleader, poet, Afro-Futurist philosopher as well as one of the most idiosyncratic of all avant-garde jazzmen. His famous Arkestra took jazz into new realms, free from the normal musical conventions his influences and styles were vast ranging from Egyptian cosmology to modern dance. Following a visionary experience in the late 1930’s he pieced together a personal mythology which included a trip to Saturn but more importantly he was told in the vision that “I would speak [through music], and the world would listen”.*Sun Ra died in 1993 but left a prolific archive of recordings as well as an influence and legacy that went way beyond the world of jazz into psychedelic rock and beyond, he would have turned 100 this year. The Arkestra performs today led by 90-year young alto saxophonist and long-time Ra collaborator Marshall Allen (feature image). The mischievous brass blasts and the grooves keep rolling, as the big band – fully dressed, as usual, in space capes with a hint of Ancient Egypt – takes off once again in a joyous burst of tightly organised madness.
Join them for this special celebration of Sun Ra’s 100th birthday, with an extended line up and immersed in a new full-blown psychedelic vision created by Mystic Lights, who accompanied the Arkestra on their Barbican debut in 2012 as part of our Transcender series.
The Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen
Celebrating the centenary of Sun Ra’s birth
31 May 2014 / 19:30
*Szwed, John F. (August 21, 1998). Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra
Photo Credit: Bud Fulginiti