“I play space music. When one day humans on far away planets hear the sounds of cosmic beings, the music will seem familiar, for while they were on Earth they had heard Sun Ra.” So Herman Poole Blount proclaimed well over 50 years ago. The ex-Fletcher Henderson pianist changed his name to Sun Ra and formed an “Intergalactic Research Arkestra”. The avant-garde big band, which also incorporated elements of Duke Ellington and Count Basie, divided the jazz world. It wasn’t just the music that caused the uproar: Sun Ra’s musical commune drew in dancers and fire-eaters, and the band performed in outlandish costumes.
Quite a few critics considered the man who had taken on the name of the Egyptian sun god to be a charlatan. However, the German jazz authority Joachim-Ernst Berendt recognized “old blues and gospel songs, African highlife dances and Egyptian marches, negro minstrel shows and voodoo rituals” in his music. Sun Ra could thank the benediction of Germany’s jazz high-priest for the black jazz guru’s invitations to the 1970 Donaueschinger Jazz Days as well as the Berlin Jazz Festival. This MPS Album was produced from the recordings of these concerts. They are certainly a documentation of jazz history; with an unusual instrumentation, the 21 piece band creates noises and percussive sounds that are out of this world. Sun Ra died in 1993. - MPS Records