Sun Ra Arkestra


Sun Ra, born Heman Poole Blount In Birmingham, Alabama, in 1952, was one of the most important and controversial figures in modern jazz. A self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn, Sun Ra was a poet, a philosopher but most importantly the founder of the Sun Ra Arkestra during the Fifties, an “intergalactic orchestra” composed by more than thirty musicians.

The group established itself on the music scene thanks to futuristic costumes and eccentric performances that accompanied a sound in between bebop and avant-garde jazz. They published numerous albums with Sun Ra’s independent label, El Saturn Records, like The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol 1 (1965), and Atlantis (1969). These two records revolutionized the use of melodies and harmonies in jazz music through the use of synthesizers and keyboards.

In 1972 Ra published Space is the Place, a supplementary album to the eponymous science fiction film produced by the artist. This was considered the most ambitious (the opening track was 21 minutes long) but also the most successful album of the ensemble, indeed it was acclaimed more than favorably by both the critics and the public.

Sun Ra and his Arkestra kept performing domestically and internationally and kept publishing new music, like Nuclear War (1982), Reflection in Blue (1986), Somewhere Else (1988), and Mayan Temples (1990), the last album composed and produced by Sun Ra before he passed in 1993 and that was recorded entirely in Italy.

After the death of its legendary founder, the Arkestra moved to the artistic direction of Marshall Belford Allen in 1995. Under Allen’s guide, they kept putting on eclectic performances that offered a potent mix of music, poetry, theatre, and dance.
The Sun Ra Arkestra came back to Italy in 2017 on the occasion of JAZZMI in Milan, and again in 2019 for a memorable live at Rome’s Monk. The roman concert preceded the release of Swirling (2020), the first album of original songs since 1990’s Mayan Temples.






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