On Thursday May 22nd, the living myth commonly known as Sun Ra will be turning 100. WKCR will be celebrating the immortal Ra and his arrival day accordingly with a week-long centennial festival, running from Monday May 19th through Sunday May 25th. As an integral part of the Afro-Surrealist and Afro-Futurist movements, Sun Ra has left the genre of jazz with an incredibly prolific collection of music, poetry, philosophy and more to listen to and learn from. Tune in throughout the week as we hear Ra in his earlier form, focusing on his work from the early '50s to the mid '70s.
Born "Herman Sonny Blount", Sun Ra arrived in Birmingham, Alabama on May 22, 1914. Having led the Sonny Blount Orchestra in the late 1930s, Ra spent the mid-late 1940s in Chicago performing with blues singers, bandleader Fletcher Henderson, and a trio with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and violinist Stuff Smith. While in Chicago, Ra began to perform under his own name with the Space Trio, and soon formed the Sun Ra Arkestra, recording on his own label Saturn Records. Ra moved to New York in 1961, and with a weekly stint at Snug's, created a number of seminal studio and live recordings with his Astro-Infinity and Solar-Myth Arkestras. After permanently relocating to Philadelphia in 1968, Ra did a number of tours in the early '70s across the U.S.,Europe, and parts of Africa. Ra continued to lead, compose for, and perform with the Arkestra until his death on May 1o, 1993.
Our festival will involve both show-specific programming throughout the week, as well as a 48-hour continuous broadcast on Thursday May 22nd and Friday May 23rd. To begin, the Monday May 19th, Tuesday May 20th, and Wednesday May 21st "Out to Lunches" (12-3pm) will consist of "Intro to Ra" programming, featuring some of Ra's most acclaimed recordings, as well as archived interviews with Ra himself. The Wednesday May 21st "Musician's Show" (6-9pm) will air a recent interview with long-time Arkestra trumpeter Chris Capers. The culminating event, the 48-hour broadcast on Thursday and Friday, will look at a range of Ra's work, including pivotal live sets, regional sessions, his solo work, key Arkestra members, and more. The centennial festival will conclude on Sunday, May 25th, with an in-depth look at some of Ra's earlier controversial, avant-garde work on the early morning "Jazz 'til Dawn" (1-6am) and a focus on notable Arkestra members with significant distinct careers on the afternoon "Jazz Profiles" (2-7pm).