David A. Martinelli

  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Sun Ra's Background, Overview of Stylistic Traits, and Important Arkestra Members
  • Chapter 3: The Cosmic-Myth Equations of Sun Ra
  • Chapter 4: Musical Manifestations of Sun Ra's Equations
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix: Discography
  • References Cited

Chapter 1: Introduction

Sun Ra is a composer, bandleader, and multi-keyboardist who has led his own big band, called the Arkestra, for nearly 35 years. Sun Ra is of African-American descent, born in Alabama, and has since lived in Chicago and New York, and is currently based in Philadelphia. Sun Ra and the Arkestra have released over one hundred records, both on small and medium-sized jazz labels as well as on Sun Ra's own label, Saturn. The music they play covers a very wide spectrum, but they are mainly associated with the jazz or improvised music idiom. Sun Ra has developed a complex, multi-leveled philosophy1, which incorporates many different elements (for example, ancient Egyptian concepts and outer space imagery), yet when looked on as a whole reveals an underlying unity of purpose.