Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sun Ra (#2): The Book Of Ra.

Some jazz texts may overlook the impact of jazz musician Sun Ra on popular culture, but (obviously) not Sun Ra: Interviews and Essays (Headpress, 2010). Ra championed a space age mythos in his live performances as well as recordings, incorporating costumes, improvisation, choreography, and big band compositions. Within the book, he is seen as an innovator, a catalyst, a precursor, and a visionary by those who still feel his impact: e.g., editor John Sinclair, poet Amiri Baraka, musicians Jerry Dammers and Wayne Kramer, and, ahem, myself—having contributed photos to the project. (The photo above, used in the book, was taken at Sun Ra’s "Election Night End of the World Party" on November 8, 1988 at The Broadway in Denver.)

Sun Ra excited my ears, entranced my mind, and awakened my own interest in and exploration of jazz and its history. The late bandleader promised the stars. And, for many who still revel in his brand of joyful noise, Sun Ra keeps keeping his promise.

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