Fascinating document of a fascinating man
happydogpotatohead | New Orleans, LA USA | 04/04/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This video gets four stars not for its execution (frankly, in spots it makes Blair Witch Project look like Citizen Kane) but for its subject, the mysterious Sun Ra and his Arkestra. The movie basically consists of Sun Ra talking about his philosophies, interspersed with interviews with members of the Arkestra and film of the Arkestra rehearsing and performing. However, the sound quality of this film leaves a lot to be desired; I haven't seen the newer version of this video/DVD and I hope they remaster the sound, because there are some dynamic moments here with the Arkestra. Those of us who were too young to have experienced Sun Ra in person will appreciate this documentary for the wealth of information it provides about the Arkestra and the exciting shots of Sun Ra and the Arkestra in concert. Unfortunately, the makers of the film never let the band play one song all the way through, so we never quite get to see Sun Ra and the Arkestra at full blast. However, the segment in the middle of the film where Sun Ra is sitting at his piano composing and then does a version of "Round Midnight" is utterly priceless. It's an all too brief glimpse of the way this compositional giant worked. The rehearsal and performance footage is equally invaluable, because it shows how Sun Ra conveyed his musical ideas to the band, and how the individual personalities fleshed out his music to create the astonishing "cosmo sound" of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. There are several problems with this film. The photography is grainy; the film looks like a PBS documentary filmed by college students in the late 70s, and the sound is terrible. They never identify which of Mr. Ra's compositions the band is playing in the concert segments (although "Astro Black" and "We Travel The Spaceways" are excerpted at the beginning and end of the film). These technical flaws are offset by the fact that it's one of the few documents of this underappreciated American composer that we have. Sun Ra was an amazing and interesting man, and if you are a fan of Sun Ra, the performances by the Arkestra and the interviews with the band and Mr. Ra far outweigh the film's considerable technical shortcomings. For newcomers to the omniverse of the self-proclaimed Man from Saturn, this film may only be completely mystifying, but then again, I have the feeling that Sun Ra wouldn't have minded that either. Four stars for content, two stars for execution."
A must see program for all Sun Ra fans
Robert K (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Chicago, USA | 07/17/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"An amazing video about some of the aspects of creativity, philosophy and a way of life of one of the greatest American/world/universe jazz musicians. Sun Ra's excerpts from his "intergalactic" philosophy. Lots of excellent music. Sun Ra Archestra members' opinions on their boss and music. Inside look at the way the Sun Ra community lived and created. Worth seeing not only for those who know and like Sun Ra, but also for all jazz fans."
Classic sun ra
ramjac | usa / uk | 08/29/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"if you are a sun ra fan then this is a must. if you want an introduction to sun ra you couldnt ask for much better. great live performances and classic quotes from the master of the one liner. " with all the school and hospitals you got, your supposed to have a better world than this" and" you cant have a whitehouse if you dont have a blackhouse, in fact you cant have anything without its opposite" and the timeless " space is the place." some of the music on this dvd is simply awesome. horns echoing ancient egypt, synthesizers making modern musicians look pathetic, an ancient infinity drum and a moog synthesizer. sun ra, tho he would deny he is of our species, is the man."
This has restored my faith
Samuel Eddy | australia | 10/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"forget the bull about everyone putting Sun Ra in novelty basket (because he may be one of the first to use a electric keyboard or he wore funny costumes,) i will stand up and claim he is a true genius (what ever that means) Sun Ra has fully restored my faith in the power and fredom that exsists in music 40 odd years after this music breaks through the commercial hundrums and destroys the pretence of all these modern hazz players Ra creates the blue print for future music. He never bows down to coporate tyes or holds back from truely exploring sound. Ra makes spirtual music for the next century. This film is not only beautiful check out the opening shots on the roof (absolutly amazing) but increadibly powerful although check out the latter free jams of ra sweating over his moog in great colourcomical at times this adds to the mystery of mr mystery, the way he comands his band and releases his vision is awe-inspiring powerfully nosy, beautiful and brilliant. Not many films capture such an amazing revolutionary group in vivid colour and sound as this dvd does, althose pop band from the sixties are ridculus compared to the universialy tuned in Mr Ra. this is a must for all real music cosmologist"