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Sun Ra


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Birmingham AL, United States (1914 – 1993)

Sun Ra (1914– 1993) was an innovative jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesiser player, who came to be known as much for his Cosmic Afro-futurist Philosophy as for his phenomenal musical compositions and performances. As both a black male and an independent producer, Sun Ra defied racist institutions and beliefs.

Born on 22nd May 1914 as Herman Poole Blount, in Birmingham, Alabama, he was nicknamed “Sonny” from his youth. Later, after his release from a detention camp for protesting against World War II, he took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (after the ancient Egyptian sun god). He claimed that he was of the “Angel Race”, not from Earth but from Saturn. Some of his most notable influences were African and African-American theatre, theosophy, and masonic Afro-futurism. His interest in these art forms and principles led to the development of a complicated but consistent set of cosmic philosophies and lyrical poetry, which preached spiritual awareness and peace.

Sun Ra could play many modern and classical works from memory and had worked in country and western bands before moving to Chicago. His personal music collection contained over 10,000 discs, and he was constantly reviewing and studying. Many of his improvisational and compositional innovations were extensions of ideas from twentieth-century European composers. He is responsible for having brought these ideas into jazz decades before many commercial artists popularised the same methods.


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  • ladidavid

    sun is big. ra is great.

    20 Feb 8:26pm Reply
  • VernonSlvn

    Autocorrection is incredibly retarded

    15 Feb 11:18am Reply
  • PsychBlackness

    Sun Ra's use of the Moog synthesizer on The Night of the Purple Moon is amazing.

    25 Jan 2:06pm Reply
  • MisterJunior

    @Sad_florentine Great choice. Sadly I think because of Sun Ra's unusual persona his merits as a musical pioneer get short shrift from many. Having a unique personality and style is great for getting attention, but many people are too narrow-minded to see past that personality and appreciate the music/art and get caught up in viewing the artist as a "freak show." For some, Sun Ra is put on the level of a novelty act like Wesley Willis, which seems absurd to those of us who have any degree of familiarity with his music, which was trailblazing and unique and even now seems ahead of its time in many ways, but many people can't reconcile the two seemingly oppositional forces at play here (Sun Ra's "wacky" image vs. his groundbreaking music), just as with someone like Captain Beefheart. Sad.

    24 Jan 11:56am Reply
  • sunheadbowed

    18 Dec 2014 Reply
  • Sad_florenthine

    Su Ra's Lanquidity -as well as his other works- is one of jazz’s most under-appreciated albums, from one of jazz’s most under-appreciated artists.

    18 Dec 2014 Reply
  • ladidavid

    Very interesting vibes. Awesome music indeed.

    14 Dec 2014 Reply
  • Amrabart

    I actually meant it in a positive way (and you can't really deny that he was a bit 'out there')

    11 Dec 2014 Reply
  • jjjjjjjjjjjjonj

    legendary nutcase seems reductive and insulting but if that's how you want to think about him then your loss

    5 Dec 2014 Reply
  • Amrabart

    legendary nutcase

    17 Nov 2014 Reply
  • trScatterbrain

    the movie is available on youtube, and I second that recommendation.

    13 Nov 2014 Reply
  • Highlander42

    Highly recommend the Space is the Place movie to anyone who hasn't seen it

    2 Nov 2014 Reply
  • ComboooBreaker


    29 Oct 2014 Reply
  • lordinfamous

    It's no Worlds Approaching though...

    17 Oct 2014 Reply
  • lordinfamous

    I enjoyed Door Squeak quite a bit, the ending especially is pretty chilling (with a link to verify in case you don't believe me -

    17 Oct 2014 Reply
  • da-ICEMAN

    new compilation is pretty much flawless!!!

    11 Oct 2014 Reply
  • m1a100

    Pretty good stuff indeed!

    29 Sep 2014 Reply
  • toztizokzndz

    New compilation compiled by Marshall Allen is pretty good.

    26 Sep 2014 Reply
  • Tuntury

    That's what I thought. Should've been a bicycle instead.

    9 Sep 2014 Reply
  • stupidstuff

    That's a rather mundane looking spaceship behind Sun Ra in the main photo.

    6 Sep 2014 Reply
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