The hundredth birthday of Sun Ra is a cause for celebration in New Orleans and online.
Thursday would have been the 100th birthday for jazz futurist Sun Ra had he lived that long (he passed away in 1993), and the milestone will be honored upstairs at the Blue Nile tonight as part of the Open Ears Music Series. A big-ish band will play a set of his compositions, with a lineup that includes
Antonio Gambrell & John Culbreth - trumpets
Rick Trolsen & Jeff Albert - trombones
Ray Moore, Rex Gregory, Brad Walker, & Dan Oestreicher - saxes
Janna Saslaw - Flute
Jimbo Walsh - piano & organ
James Singleton - bass
Doug Garrison - drums
For those who can't make it, the show will be simulcast on WWOZ starting at 10 p.m.
Those who'd like something more enduring can download 21 remastered, reissued Sun Ra albums at iTunes. The audio verité quality of his recordings has been preserved on the albums, many of which include bonus tracks. You can now purchase:
Supersonic Jazz (1957)
Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth (1958)
Angels and Demons At Play (1965)
Interstellar Low Ways (1966)
Jazz in Silhouette (1959)
Nubians of Plutonia (1966)
Sound Sun Pleasure (1970)
We Travel the Spaceways (1967)
Fate in a Pleasant Mood (1965)
Holiday for Soul Dance (1970)
Bad and Beautiful (1972)
The Invisible Shield (1974)
When Sun Comes Out (1963)
Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy (1967)
Monorails and Satellites, Vol. 1 (1968)
Other Planes of There (1966)
The Magic City (1966)
Strange Strings (1967)
Astro Black (1972)
Universe in Blue (1972)
Each album includes a downloadable pdf of the cover art and new liner notes from WFMU's Irwin Chuswid.
For an additional deep dive into Sun Ra's unified theory of art/music/philosophy/cosmology, read John Szwed's biography of the bandleader who was a Jazz Fest regular, Space is the Place.