Sun Ra Arkestra
What can you say about Sun Ra, nee Herman Blount, a/k/a Le Sony’r Ra? One hundred years after he arrived on earth and 21 years after his physical embodiment passed from view, he is best known by many for his cosmic trappings: Ra as spiritual being, interplanetary traveler, honorary ancient Egyptian. More importantly, to jazz fans, he was a musical visionary as a writer, arranger, pianist, electric keyboard innovator (and inventor) and beyond-prolific recording artist.
Sun Ra left behind mountains of music, much of which is still waiting to be heard and notated. But for all that is mysterious about him, and for all that is weird, he created sounds for the ages – music that is beautiful, richly harmonious, infectious and swinging.
Tonight, performing in the city where Sun Ra launched his career – and, we’ll argue with great pride, made his greatest contribution as an artist – current and former members of the Sun Ra Arkestra will celebrate his centennial. Fresh off a tour of Europe, the band will be led, as it has been since Ra left us, by the great alto saxophonist Marshall Allen. When you hear that familiar chant, “Space is the place!,” keep in mind that Chicago is the place where it all started.