Thursday, November 15, 2012
Sun Ra - Angels and Demons at Play
I've been reading Valerie Wilmer's amazing book The Story of the New Jazz, which was written back in the mid seventies and cover's many of the pioneering musicians during the late sixties and seventies that helped introduce new approaches and sounds into post-bebop era jazz. An incredible book that every jazz fan should read.
I just finished reading the chapter that cover's cosmic jazz legend Sun Ra and the musicians that made up his Arkestra. I'm always fascinated to learn how much of a major influence Sun Ra was on other jazz greats like John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, Julian Priester, John Gilmore, Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Philip Cohran and others. He is considered by many as one of the most creative and groundbreaking artists in the history of jazz, constantly challenging his band members musically and spiritually. The mysterious pianist and bandleader once stated that he writes his music according to the day, the minute, and what is going on in the cosmos. His fascination with space was very prominent in both his themes and the sound he often seemed to try to capture. He was also interestedly heavily influenced by big bands led by Duke Ellignton, Fletcher Henderson and others which influenced him to assemble his own version of a big band, mostly known as the Arkestra. Blending both his fascination to explore new cosmic sounds and tones in jazz while using the foundation of a very discipline "big band" approach with his own group, resulted in some of the most creative music to have ever been written and recorded.
Here is The Sun Ra Arkestra's 1960 classic "Angels and Demons at Play", a composition written by bassist Ronnie Boykins. Easily one of my favorite recordings from the group. Enjoy!
The Sun Ra Arkestra - Angels and Demons at Play