Sally alerts us to the ur-texts from the ur-spaceman behind the most modern jazz. “The Wisdom of Sun Ra” is just out from University of Chicago Press.
From the Arkestra to his experiments with synthesizers, Sun Ra was one of the most inventive jazz musicians in history. Yet until now, there has not been a collection of his earliest writings that reveal the beginnings of his work as philosopher, mystic, and Afro-Futurist. This new volume unveils over forty newly discovered typewritten broadsheets on which Sun Ra expounded his wholly unique philosophical message. While in Chicago during the mid-1950s, Sun Ra preached on street corners and occasionally created scripts to accompany his lectures—intricate texts that invoke science fiction, Biblical prophecy, etymology, and black nationalism. Until this point, the only broadsheet known to exist was one given to John Coltrane in 1956. These newly unearthed writings attest to the provocative brilliance that inspired Coltrane. Sun Ra annotated many of them by hand, and together the sheets reveal fascinating new aspects of his worldview. The Wisdom of Sun Ra is an invaluable compendium of writings by one of the most intriguing and influential jazz figures of the century.
Not by coincidence but because of an odd alignment of the planets I’m sure, Dr. Funkenstein aka Atomic Dog aka George Clinton who is surely the living heir to Sun Ra in many many ways was interviewed on Morning Edition (special features on their website).