Sun Ra

~ Person

Legal name: Herman Blount


Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his experimental music, "cosmic philosophy," prolific output, and theatrical performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979.

Born in Alabama in 1914, Blount would eventually become involved in the 1940s Chicago jazz scene. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Sun Ra (Ra being the Egyptian God of the Sun) and developing a complex persona and mythology that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism: he claimed he was an alien from Saturn, and throughout his life, he consistently denied any ties to his prior identity. His compositions ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians, and his widely experimental and eclectic music would eventually touch on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz. From the mid-1950s to his death, Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up (although certain core members remained with the group through its various incarnations, including Marshal Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the space age.

Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, and making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century. Following Sun Ra's death in 1993, the Arkestra continue to perform.

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Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1957 Sun Song Sun Ra 3
1961 The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra Sun Ra 6
1965 Rocket Number Nine Take Off for the Planet Venus Sun Ra 2
1965 The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume 1 Sun Ra 4
1968 Monorails and Satellites Sun Ra 2
1969 Monorails and Satellites, Volume 2 Sun Ra 1
1970 Nothing Is... Sun Ra 3
1972 Astro Black Sun Ra 1
1973 Space Is the Place Sun Ra 3
1974 The Antique Blacks Sun Ra 2
1975 What's New? Sun Ra 3
1976 Cosmos Sun Ra 2
1977 Solo Piano, Volume 1 Sun Ra 1
1978 Lanquidity Sun Ra 2
1978 New Steps Sun Ra 2
1979 Visions Walt Dickerson & Sun Ra 2
1980 Of Mythic Worlds Sun Ra 1
1981 Aurora Borealis Sun Ra 1
1982 Oblique Parallax Sun Ra 1
1983 Just Friends Sun Ra 1
1983 Ra to the Rescue Sun Ra 1
1985 Cosmo Sun Connection Sun Ra 2
1985 Hiroshima Sun Ra 2
1985 Outer Reach Intensity-Energy Sun Ra 1
1985 When Spaceships Appear Sun Ra 1
1988 Hidden Fire 1 Sun Ra 1
1988 Hidden Fire 2 Sun Ra 1
1989 Blue Delight Sun Ra 3
1990 Purple Night Sun Ra 1
1998 Somewhere Else Sun Ra 1
1999 Janus Sun Ra 2
2000 Standards Sun Ra 1
2000 The Great Lost Sun Ra Albums Sun Ra 1
2003 Piano Recital: Teatro la Fenice Sun Ra 1
2003 Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol.1 Sun Ra 1
2003 Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol.2 Sun Ra 1
2003 Spaceship Lullaby Sun Ra 1
2005 Heliocentric Worlds, Volume 3: The Lost Tapes Sun Ra 1
2014 Other Strange Worlds Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra 1
St. Louis Blues (Solo Piano) Sun Ra 1
The Creator of the Universe Sun Ra 1
The Other Side of the Sun Sun Ra 1

Album + Compilation

Year Title Artist RatingReleases
1996 The Singles Sun Ra 1
1998 Calling Planet Earth Sun Ra 2
2007 Dance of the Living Image Sun Ra 1
2007 Towards the Stars: Pioneering in 1955-56 Sun Ra 1
2008 The Universe Sent Me Sun Ra 1
2010 The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Sun Ra 1
2012 Art Yard in a Box Sun Ra 1
2013 A Space Odyssey: From Birmingham to the Big Apple – The Quest Begins Sun Ra 1

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