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Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise1980

  • 4.3
Years ahead of his time, composer, keyboard player, bandleader, poet and philosopher Sun Ra coupled images of outer space with those of ancient Egypt, acoustic instruments with electronic ones and modern American musical genres (jazz, soul, gospel, blues, swing) with the sounds of Africa and the Caribbean. He also combined his music with dance, poetry, colorful costumes and backdrops and pure theatricality, influencing other innovative musical ensembles as diverse as the Art Ensemble of Chicago, George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic, and Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, and he was among the first musicians to use electronic keyboards and portable synthesizers in public performance. For his one-hour documentary, SUN RA: A JOYFUL NOISE, Robert Mugge spent two years shooting Sun Ra and members of his so-called jazz Arkestra in a wide variety of situations. Ensemble performances were filmed at Baltimore's Famous Ballroom, at Danny's Hollywood Palace in Philadelphia, and on the roof of Philadelphia's International House on the edge of the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. Sun Ra's poetry and mythological pronouncements were filmed in the Egyptian Room of the University of Pennsylvania's anthropology museum, in a sculpture garden in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park, in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., and inside and outside of the house he shared with key band members in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Interviews with band members were filmed inside and outside of the house, as well as inside their nearby Pharaoh's Den food store, and a band rehearsal and a solo keyboard performance were filmed in the house as well. Transferred to HD from the original 16mm film and lovingly restored for the best possible viewing experience. Songs performed in the film include such Sun Ra classics as "Astro Black," "Mister Mystery," "We Travel the Spaceways," "Along Came Ra/The Living Myth," "Spaceship Earth (Destination Unknown), "Requiem for Trevor Johnson" and many more.

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4 members like this review

Well-made as a documentary, thoroughly enjoyable as a sampling of the works of the beloved pianist and composer Sun Ra, as well as a fascinating look into the mind of a dude who lived and breathed the very notion of "far-out." Worth a watch if you like jazz, Egypt, or just, like, some trippy shit, man.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (6)

246400.small
top reviewer

Well-made as a documentary, thoroughly enjoyable as a sampling of the works of the beloved pianist and composer Sun Ra, as well as a fascinating look into the mind of a dude who lived and breathed the very notion of "far-out." Worth a watch if you like jazz, Egypt, or just, like, some trippy shit, man.

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

Quite a few great clips of Sun Ra composing, practicing and leading his band, showcasing his serious musical chops. Sun Ra and his band scrub your brains-out with crazy invention and the unexpected and he is fascinating. Unfortunately, he is as much an enigma after the documentary as before it, and questions like how much of his persona was real and how much was showmanship aren’t even touched. Instead, he’s interviewed in a museum’s Egyptian display where he can ham it up and ramble on and on about space, vibrations and energy. Once in a while he pauses as if he trips on his own nonsense as he smiles slyly at the camera. The music and the man are a great show, and this is a delightful documentary for anyone who loves jazz, creativity or individualism bordering on insanity.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

For me this is pure genius, and the epitome of Jazz. It is joyful, ecstatic, exotic; an unorthodox

marriage of intellect and imagination. Sun Ra moves me off-center, which is where I, and most people

prefer to be. His extreme originality, may ultimately be intended to inspire others to create their own

original reality. Superb documentary.

This film is pure joy. Blissful ecstatic joy.

Great doc!

The man clearly had his finger on the pulse of the cosmos!

GREATITUT !