Thursday, May 22, 2014
Today marks the 100th birthday of the greatest musician ever to come from Saturn.
Sun Ra came to earth 100 years ago, on May 22nd, 1914. He left us, to return to more celestial climes on May 30, 1993. His work was done here, and Saturn was calling him home.
In his time here, Sun Ra adopted Jazz as his muse, but incorporated every style of music that we earthlings could comprehend (Doo Wop, Rawk, Soul, R'n'B, even, gasp, a little Country trope here and there) and infused his night-sky gazing philosophy into a vision that was broad and singular.
Space was the place.
An amalgamation of sounds that only an Alien could coalesce...a Man from Saturn, gracing us so briefly with the echoes of music bouncing off planets and pinging the void in-between. Difficult sometimes, not easy listening (can we comprehend the rhythms of another world?), and then veering into groove (like rings) freakout drone sound. Not to forget the straight-ahead, earthbound compositions, that are the easy entry into Sun Ra's world.
Sun Ra's discography is broad, and encapsulates hundreds of rekkids and styles. Every step taken is a revelation of sound. There is no way to pin him down.
Saturn loaned him to us briefly, in this small burning candle of Earthly life. They needed him back, and they took him. But not without a legacy that is mighty and astonishing. His influence can be heard, particularly in the Rawk (unbroken) circles...from Flying Saucer Attack to Spacemen 3. From 13th Floor Elevators to Galaxie 500. From John Coltrane to Pharaoh Sanders.
We travel the Spaceways Together, indeed.
Happy 100th birthday, Sun Ra, whatever Galaxy you roam!
(there's no way we could encapsulate the full spectrum of Sun Ra's music...here's just a few our favorites, at least for today. Under no circumstances should this be construed as anything close to defininitive)
Sun Ra: We Travel the Spaceways (mp3)
Sun Ra Arkestra: Nuclear War (mp3)
Sun Ra: I'm Gonna Unmask the Batman (mp3)
Sun Ra Arkestra: Springtime in Chicago (mp3)
Please support your local, independent musicians from Saturn.