Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Sun Ra Arkestra - Live In Oakland |
Actor: Sun Ra
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
In this volume, the Arkestra prove that they are the true heirs to the Duke Ellington Orchestra, yet with the futuristic edge that is only Sun Ra. Here they have perhaps their most traditional big band sound, with long eve... more »
For the Hard Core Fan/Collector
Eileen Corder | West Coast | 12/14/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Shot with a VHS camera awkwardly propped behind a microphone stand and the bell of a bassoon, this video combines poorly miked sound with a frustratingly static view of musicians to document one of the last concerts Sun Ra gave on the west coast. Nowhere do the makers of this video tell you exactly where or when this concert takes place (and the photo of Sun Ra on the cover is from something else altogether) but I assume it was at Concepts Cultural Gallery in l992. Sun Ra had already suffered a stroke and all we see of him is a blurry white beret hovering behind the lid of his piano. All we hear him play is the first few bars of each song. At the end of each set (there are two) you see him being helped offstage, unable to walk by himself.
Although the credits say, "beautiful vocals by June Tyson," you catch a glimpse of her only twice, once with a violin. The camera pans left a couple times to catch an Arkestra dancer, or right to momentarily look up at James Jackson and the Egyptian drum, or zooms in a couple feet to catch the tired musicians listening to a soloist we can't even see. Elo Omo, Pat Patrick and others perform some good solos, but Marshall Allen, who is usually tight, appears as if his thoughts are elsewhere. The Arkestra as a whole is off. It is John Gilmore alone who still seems inspired. Sad it is indeed, when the concert comes to an end, the musicians characteristically start leaving the stage one at a time, and Gilmore, at his mike, keeps up with the chant as if trying to hold onto the magic that was Sun Ra.
I saw many Sun Ra concerts, from Cal Berkeley's Zellerbach to Ruthie's Inn to Berkeley High School Auditorium, and each one was surprising, deep and memorable. I also remember Concepts in 1992. My friends and I were there, so happy to see Sun Ra alive and the Arkestra still going. According to this video, however, things were falling apart.
If you want a document of what the last years where like, then you might want to buy this DVD, though I would suggest renting it first. Maybe better to remember Sun Ra and the Arkestra as the seriously comic, musically excellent, innovative and full-of-moxy group of artists they were. A Joyful Noise, Mystery Mr Ra, or any one of the other concert videos available capture their better days. I love you, Sun Ra."