Freaky Repost: “Door of the Cosmos”
Posted by purplemary54 on March 14, 2014
My original plan for today’s post didn’t pan out. Maybe next week. Instead, enjoy this somewhat timely repost. You know, since the rebooted Cosmos has begun airing on Fox/NatGeo with scientific rock star Neil Degrasse Tyson stepping into the late great Carl Sagan’s shoes.
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.