Music can break down
Be it stone or iron.
It can teach a king to
Smash tradition’s fort
Cross the moat of feudal defense
And bring to naught
The bonds of languages
That separate and demean
The brothers of the sun.
Sun Ra, Brothers Of The Sun (1989), The Immeasurable Equation: The Collected Poetry and Prose
Sun Ra was born on May 22, 1914, in Birmingham, Alabama, as Herman Poole Blount. He began his musical career in the late 1930s as a pianist and arranger in various R&B and swing bands. During this time, he played with many notable musicians. In the 1940s, he moved to Chicago, where he continued to play and record with various bands.
One of the most significant events in Sun Ra’s early career was his discovery of the writings of theosophist Alice Bailey. Her teachings about spirituality and the cosmos had a profound impact on Sun Ra’s personal philosophy and his approach to music. He began to incorporate these ideas into his compositions and performances, which would become a defining characteristic of his music.
In 1952, Sun Ra formed his own band, the Arkestra, which would become the vehicle for his most significant musical and philosophical innovations. The Arkestra was an experimental ensemble that drew on a wide range of musical traditions, including jazz, R&B, and classical music. Sun Ra’s compositions for the Arkestra were marked by their complexity and experimentation, as well as their incorporation of cosmic and spiritual themes.
Get into Ra with our recommended album “Sun Ra Plays Gershwin” (1991). This album features Sun Ra’s interpretations of classic George Gershwin compositions, showcasing his early career as a pianist and arranger. Then head on over to our singles “Nuclear War” and “Nuke’s Blues”.