The 100th birthday of composer, band leader, pianist, poet and philosopher Sun Ra is being celebrated this year.
On that occasion, his band Arkestra dedicated their summer tour to celebrating Ra’s ”arrival on planet Earth”. The anniversary will also be celebrated with a release of Ra’s entire, digitalized, enormous opus.
Ra released his albums through his own record label Saturn thanks to whose rich archive the mastering could be done, and thanks to iTunes download of digitalized, high resolution albums was made possible. Having in mind that we speak about 1000 recordings, the material was divided in 10 theme orientated collections called Explore the Cosmos Series with subcategories like Outer Space, Hard Pop, Exotica, Avant-Garde, The Blues and Percussion.
Sun Ra albums are collectors pieces. Most of them will be available for the first time in digital, high resolution format. Numerous never before released recordings, lo-fi material from the recording sessions and a PDF booklet with additional info about every release will be available as well.
The first series of 21 albums is available for download through iTunes. Among musicians who can be heard on these releases are tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, bassist Ronnie Boykins, drummers Clifford Jarvis and Tommy Bugs Hunter, vocalist June Tyson, trombonist Julian Priester, percussionist Jim Herndon and Pat Patrick on reeds.
Led by saxophonist/conductor Marshall Allen, Ra’s former student, the Arkestra is going to celebrate the birthday of it’s founder among others with performances at the Glastonbury Festival on 27 June, Blue Note Tokyo on 04 and 05 July, North Sea Jazz Festival on 12 July, Chicago Jazz Festival on 31 August and Canda’s Guelph Jazz Festival on 06 September.
Sun Ra passed in 1993.
From the first series of available releases in digital format, listen to the album Jazz in Silhouette from 1959.