Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise | Chicago Reader

Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise

Jazz great Sun Ra (born Herman P. Blount) knew a little something about showmanship: not only was he a brilliant and prescient composer, but he wrapped his music in an elaborate quasi-Egyptian mythology that made for colorful theater. This celebratory 1980 documentary by Robert Mugge (Deep Blues) presents him as both philosopher and inspired leader of his most famous band, the Arkestra. Testimonials from his sidemen are intercut with concert footage shot in Baltimore and Philadelphia (among the tunes performed are “Astro Black” and “We Travel the Spaceways”) and sessions with the man himself, filmed in the Egyptian room of a museum. He looks intently into the camera as he expounds on his intergalactic Afrocentrist worldview. Is he serious? His mischievous smile says it all.

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