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Sun Ra

Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 – May 30, 1993) was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his experimental music, "cosmic philosophy", prolific output, and theatrical performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979. For much of his career, Ra led "The Arkestra", an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible line-up.

Born and raised in Alabama, Blount would eventually become involved in the 1940s Chicago jazz scene. He soon abandoned his birth name, taking the name Sun Ra (after Ra, the Egyptian God of the Sun) and developing a complex persona and mythology that would make him a pioneer of Afrofuturism: he claimed he was an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and throughout his life he consistently denied any ties to his prior identity. His widely eclectic and exploratory music would eventually touch on virtually the entire history of jazz, ranging from swing music and bebop to free jazz and fusion, and his compositions ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians. From the mid-1950s until his death, Ra led the musical collective The Arkestra (which featured artists such as Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson throughout its various iterations). Its performances often included dancers and musicians dressed in elaborate, futuristic costumes inspired by ancient Egyptian attire and the space age.

Though his mainstream success was limited, Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, and remained both influential and controversial throughout his life for his music and persona. He is now widely considered an innovator; among his distinctions are his pioneering work in free improvisation and modal jazz and his early use of electronic keyboards. Over the course of his career, he recorded dozens of singles and over one hundred full-length albums, comprising well over 1000 songs, and making him one of the most prolific recording artists of the 20th century. Following Sun Ra's death in 1993, the Arkestra continues to perform.

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Genres jazz free jazz avant-garde jazz space-age electronic
Top release Lanquidity
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Albums

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    Jazz by Sun Ra
    1957
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    The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
    1961
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    The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume 1
    1965
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    Rocket Number Nine Take Off for the Planet Venus
    1965
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    The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Volume 2
    1966
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    Monorails and Satellites
    1968
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    Monorails And Satellites Volume 2
    1969
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    Astro Black
    1972
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    Space Is the Place
    1973
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    The Antique Blacks
    1974
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    What's New?
    1975
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    Cosmos
    1976
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    The Soul Vibrations of Man
    1977
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    Solo Piano, Volume 1
    1977
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    Lanquidity
    1978
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    Omniverse
    1979
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    Visions
    1979
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    Of Mythic Worlds
    1980
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    Aurora Borealis
    1981
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    Oblique Parallax
    1982
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    Ra to the Rescue
    1983
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    Just Friends
    1983
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    When Spaceships Appear
    1985
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    Hiroshima
    1985
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    Outer Reach Intensity-Energy
    1985
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    Hidden Fire 1
    1988
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    Hidden Fire 2
    1988
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    Blue Delight
    1989
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    Purple Night
    1990
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    Somewhere Else
    1998
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    Janus
    1999
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    Standards
    2000
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    The Great Lost Sun Ra Albums
    2000
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    Spaceship Lullaby
    2003
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    Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol.2
    2003
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    Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vol.1
    2003
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    Piano Recital: Teatro la Fenice
    2003
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    Heliocentric Worlds, Volume 3: The Lost Tapes
    2005
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    Other Strange Worlds
    2014
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    I Roam the Cosmos
    2015
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    Continuation, Vol. 2
    2016

Other releases

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    Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold
    1976
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    John Cage Meets Sun Ra
    1987
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    Les Génies du Jazz (Tome 6, No. 10): Sun Ra (and His Arkestra)
    1991
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    The Singles
    1996
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    Calling Planet Earth
    1998
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    Concert for the Comet Kohoutek
    2000
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    Intergalactic Research
    2007
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    The Shadows Took Shape
    2007
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    Towards the Stars: Pioneering in 1955-56
    2007
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    Dance of the Living Image
    2007
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    The Universe Sent Me
    2008
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    Live in Cleveland
    2009
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    The Road to Destiny
    2010
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    The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra
    2010
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    Art Yard in a Box
    2012
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    A Space Odyssey: From Birmingham to the Big Apple – The Quest Begins
    2013
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    Marshall Allen Presents Sun Ra and His Arkestra: In the Orbit of Ra
    2014
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    In Some Far Place: Roma '77
    2016
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    Strange City
    2016
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    Strange City
    2016