The Essential Sun Ra

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The Essential Sun Ra

At the risk of sounding horribly reductive (and perhaps a bit factually vague), Sun Ra was a nut. He claimed he was born on Saturn (Wikipedia puts his birthplace at Birmingham, Alabama), developed his own brand of cosmic mysticism (later dubbed afro-futurism and adopted by everyone from George Clinton to Janelle Monae) and made a headdress and flowing robe a cornerstone of his wardrobe. He also released dozens of albums, all of which were idiosyncratic and none of which was particularly canonical, so Jason Heller’s attempt to provide a beginner’s guide are valiant and valuable. The playlist itself is understandably all over the map, but it provides a nice glance at the many stylistic shifts Sun Ra would make.

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