While this event is open to the public, you must pre-register in order to gain access in person. No walk-ups will be allowed at Longy for performances.
The No Boundaries Big Band performs the music of Sun Ra with guest poet Askia Toure
Today we feature the music of Sun Ra, one of the most enigmatic figures in jazz. Born Herman Blount on May 22, 1914, Ra professed to know nothing of a person by that name. In fact, his actual date of birth was never divulged until quite late in his life when researchers looked it up in the Birmingham, Alabama public records. He was a bright student and took to music quickly, working frequently around the South from his teen years. By his mid-thirties he was active in Chicago, where he began rehearsing with young musicians interested in his new ideas. His first recordings show music thoroughly steeped in the swing and bop traditions but with unusual intervallic devices and stretched harmonies. Ra was also a pioneer in bringing sounds of African and Eastern music into jazz. Sun Ra, with a core group of his faithful sidemen, migrated to New York in 1961, becoming a vital part of the New Music scene. Always maintaining the role of the mystic, philosopher and poet, Ra had little interest in the standard ideas of ‘success’ in the jazz world. He had a legendary status among his peers and frequently offered artistic and spiritual advice. After resettling in Philadelphia in the late sixties, Sun Ra and the Arkestra had begun to attract a cult following which has only grown since his death in 1993. His music, full of contradictions and mystery continues to inspire and infuriate listeners. Perhaps in the new century his music will be properly dealt with by jazz historians. The Sun Ra Arkestra remains active to this day under the leadership of the 98-year-old alto saxophonist Marshall Allen.