Thursday, August 5, 2010

SUN RA - Come With Us to a New Existence – Space is the Place

Come With Us to a New Existence – Space is the Place

Late in my undergrad college experience, I became interested in media production and cinematography. a wonderful opportunity to video tape Sun RA and the Arkestra presented itself; and I was magically transported into a world where music was a road map to reality. much the same as my reality now, at BadGalsRadio.

“Shadow World” – Sun RA Arkestra Live in West Berlin 

Seeing Sun RA on stage and the Arkestra fully engaged was one of the most enlightening musical experiences of my life. his spiritual rhythms seem to re program each of us, in attendance that night. Later in life I was again privileged to see Sun RA and the Arkestra perform – and again I was blown away to a far away reality, filled with Jazz, Philosophy and Reality. You see, once you’ve experienced Sun RA you have touched another world, literally.

Enjoy our short interplanetary journey today, with the High Priest of Jazz Dr. Sun RA and His Spiritual Arkestra.

This is a small bit of background on Sun Ra from Wikipedia
Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony’r Ra[1]; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was born in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a prolific jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his “cosmic philosophy,” musical compositions and performances.
“Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial,” critic Scott Yanow said,[2] because of Sun Ra’s eclectic music and unorthodox lifestyle. Claiming that he was of the “Angel Race” and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona of “cosmic” philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism as he preached awareness and peace above all. He abandoned his birth name and took on the name and persona of Sun Ra (Ra being the ancient Egyptian god of the sun), and used several other names throughout his career, including Le Sonra and Sonny Lee.[3] Sun Ra denied any connection with his birth name, saying “That’s an imaginary person, never existed … Any name that I use other than Ra is a pseudonym.”[4]

From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led “The Arkestra” (a deliberate re-spelling of “orchestra“), an ensemble with an ever-changing lineup and name (it was also called “The Solar Myth Arkestra”, “His Cosmo Discipline Arkestra”, the “Blue Universe Arkestra”, “The Jet Set Omniverse Arkestra”, and many other permutations; Sun Ra asserted that the ever-changing name of his ensemble reflected the ever-changing nature of his music.) His mainstream success was limited, but Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, Sun Ra’s music ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians; his music touched on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz; he was also a pioneer of electronic music, space music,[5] and free improvisation, and was one of the first musicians, regardless of genre, to make extensive use of electronic keyboards.

For decades, very little was known about Sun Ra’s early life; much of it was obscured by Sun Ra himself: he routinely gave evasive, contradictory or seemingly nonsensical answers to personal questions and even denied his birth name. His birthday for years was unknown, with years ranging from 1910 to 1918 being claimed for his birth. Only a few years before his death, the date of Sun Ra’s birth remained a mystery: Jim Macnie’s notes for Blue Delight (1989) could only state that Sun Ra was believed to be about 75 years old.
However, Ra’s biographer John F. Szwed was able to uncover a wealth of information about Ra’s early life, including confirming a May 22, 1914 birth date. Named after the popular vaudeville stage magician Black Herman, who had deeply impressed his mother, Sun Ra would speculate, only half in jest, that he was distantly related to Elijah Poole, later famous as Elijah Muhammed, leader of the Nation of Islam. He was nicknamed “Sonny” from his childhood, had an older sister and half-brother, and was doted upon by his mother and grandmother.

Sun Ra was a skilled pianist as a child. By 11 or 12 years old he was writing original songs,[6] and was able to sight read sheet music. Birmingham was an important stop for touring musicians, and he saw famous musicians like Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, along with less-famous performers who were often just as talented as their better-known peers, with Sun Ra once stating “the world let down a lot of good musicians”.[7] In his teenage years, Sun Ra demonstrated prodigious musical talent: many times, according to acquaintances, he would see big band performances and produce full transcriptions of the bands’ songs from memory.

By his mid-teens Sun Ra was performing semi-professionally as a solo pianist, or as a member of various ad hoc jazz and R&B groups. He attended Birmingham’s Industrial High School (now known as Parker High School) where he studied under famed music teacher John T. “Fess” Whatley, a demanding disciplinarian who was widely respected and whose classes produced many professional musicians.
At ten years old Sun Ra joined the Knights of Pythias, and remained a member until he graduated from high school. His family was deeply religious but was not formally associated with any Christian church or sect. Ra had few or no close friends in high school but was remembered as kind-natured and quiet, an honor roll student, and a voracious reader.

The Black Masonic Lodge was one of the few places in Birmingham where African-Americans had essentially unlimited access to books, and the Lodge’s many books on Freemasonry and other esoteric concepts made a large impression on him.

Sun Ra claimed a visionary experience as a college student, a strange event that was to have a major long-term influence on the young pianist. In 1936 or 1937, in the midst of deep religious concentration, Sun Ra claimed that a bright light appeared around him, and, as he later stated,
… my whole body changed into something else. I could see through myself. And I went up … I wasn’t in human form … I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn … they teleported me and I was down on [a] stage with them. They wanted to talk with me. They had one little antenna on each ear. A little antenna over each eye. They talked to me. They told me to stop [attending college] because there was going to be great trouble in schools … the world was going into complete chaos … I would speak [through music], and the world would listen. That’s what they told me.[9]
Sun Ra said that this experience occurred in 1936 or 1937, but according to Swzed, even his closest associates cannot date the story any earlier than 1952 (Sun Ra also stated that it occurred when he was living in Chicago, a town he did not regularly inhabit until the late 1940s). With no substantial variations, Sun Ra discussed the vision to the end of his life.
The trip to Saturn allegedly happened a full decade before flying saucers entered public consciousness with the 1947 encounter of Kenneth Arnold; about 15 years before the contactees and their stories of benevolent Space Brothers were publicized by the likes of George Adamski; and almost 20 years before sinister UFO abductions were a public concept with the 1961 case of Barney and Betty Hill. Szwed states that “even if this story is revisionist autobiography … Sonny was pulling together several strains of his life. He was both prophesizing his future and explaining his past with a single act of personal mythology.[10]

New devotion to music (late 1930s)

Even putting Blount’s strange vision aside, after leaving college, he became known as perhaps the most singularly devoted musician in Birmingham. He rarely slept, citing Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and Napoleon as fellow highly productive cat-nappers. He transformed the first floor of his family’s home into a conservatory-workshop where he wrote songs, transcribed recordings, rehearsed with the many musicians who were nearly constantly drifting in and out, and discussed Biblical and esoteric concepts with whomever was interested.[11]
To Learn More about Sun RA Visit His Complete Wikipedia Page Here

3 comments: said...

I was lucky enough to see Sun Ra in concert at a small college here in upstate NY. I remember it well because the opening act, if you want to call it that was Taj Mahal, another visionary with a very simple yet effective use of an instrument that memorized everyone in attendance.

RE Ausetkmt said...

Sun Ra and Taj Mahal, wow. I guess it was appropriate since he's totally acoustic and very roots. I love Taj too. so did you smoke a doobe before your intergalactic journey ? I'm sure Sunny Did. (wink*wink)

Patrick said...

@RE Ausetkmt --- Sun Ra didn't do any drugs...