On this day Sun Ra was born – a pianist, composer, poet and philosopher.
He believed he was of the “Angel Race” from Saturn, so he changed his birth given name at young age, from Herman Poole Blount to Le Sony’r Ra or Sun Ra, from the Egyptian God of the Sun, Ra.
According to the official web site of his band, the fact that he had no birth certificate, contributed to the mystification. His birth year is arguable, 1914 is used mostly but it is assumed that he was born between 1910 and 1916.
Considered contraversial by most critics because of his eclectic music style and unorthodox lifestyle, this great pianist and electronic music pioneer, is by most remembered as leader of Archestra, an ensemble best known for it’s changable name and prolific discography.
The reason for that was the always changing music expression of it’s leader, Archestra was also known by the names Myth-Science Arkestra, Solar Myth Arkestra or Omniverse Arkestra.
Sun Ra released over 60 albums with this ensemble, which continued to work and create under the leadership of saxophonist, multiinstrumentalist and composer Marshall Allen, Sun Ra’s student. They perform and record albums regularly.
In a musical sense, Sun Ra was eclectic, his technique was under the influence of infantile boogie woogie and blues fascination, the delicacy of Count Besie and Ahmad Jamal, the sharp style of Thelonious Monk and Cecile Taylor and classical pieces of Chopin, Rachmaninoff or Schoeneberg.
He composed versatile music, from regtime, swing, bebop, free jazz to piano concerts with a big band and free improvisations. He was among pioneers of electronic and space music, on synthesizer and electric keyboards, often modifying them to get completely new sound.
Watch a 2005 BBC documentary about this artist.