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Freaky Friday: “Door of the Cosmos”

Posted by purplemary54 on July 5, 2013

I’m actually a little ashamed at how little I know about Sun Ra and his Arkestra.  He’s one of the leaders of Freak, being the composer and creator of some of the finest experimental jazz out there.  Now I admit to liking a certain amount of free and easy in my jazz, but I also like a certain amount of structure to it, which is why I’m such a late-comer to experimental jazz.  And I’ve only really dipped my toes in this fascinating subgenre.  Ornette Coleman ain’t the only bird in this musical tree.

Sun Ra is decidedly freaky as a person; some might call him insane, but I don’t think that was ever the case.  A very spiritual and religious man without a formal religion, he consciously separated himself from the life that men of his time were expected to live; he refused to follow the paths that were traditionally laid out for him.  Sun Ra claimed to have been to Saturn, and to have communicated with aliens there.  He believed he had a mission to speak to the world through music.

It’s kind of hard to decipher what the message here is supposed to be.  This is wild, chaotic stuff.  But it’s a controlled chaos, starting with a gospel-like chorus and taking off into a melange of musical notes, the tones and rhythms clashing and competing with each other while blending almost seamlessly together.  It’s like an aural Jackson Pollock painting.  The saxophone weaves in and out, the bass runs like a river current below the rest.  It’s beautiful.

Which might well be what Sun Ra was trying to tell us.  That the world is chaotic but still beautiful.  That you can be an individual and still be a part of something. That all we have to do to travel to the cosmos is to let go of whatever is weighing us down.  Gravity is just another illusion in Sun Ra’s universe.  Nothing can hold you back if you know where you’re going.

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2 Responses to “Freaky Friday: “Door of the Cosmos””

  1. Sandee said

    Thanks for introducing me to this. I’ve heard of him, distantly. I didn’t know he was a jazz musician. I thought he was more along the lines of a Donald Byrd, pop, jazz fusion kind of musician. This piece is interesting. I like it. He’s a really interesting character as well — haha!

    • Interesting is one word to describe Sun Ra. Some people would prefer insane. Me, I love how he just created himself and his world. I’m a newbie to his music, myself, but I intend to listen to more.

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