Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise
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.