If the band’s concept sound bizarre, it has nothing on the eccentricities of Sun Ra himself, a self-titled Afro-futurist philosopher who traced his descent to an angel-race from the planet Saturn. Yet Sun Ra, who founded the Arkestra in the 1950s, was also a gifted keyboard player and composer who wrote reams of material for the group, leading them to international fame before his death in 1993.
Now under the direction of spritely woodwinds player Marshall Allen, an Arkestra veteran who turned 91 this year, the ensemble continue Ra’s legacy. Continually reworked and reimagined, their half-century back-catalogue makes for thrillingly unpredictable sets. Recent appearances have seen the group resurrect tracks from the classic 1972 album ‘Space is the Place’ slipping into dissonant renditions of ballads and disarmingly-tender show tunes.
With snatches of old-school honky-tonk groove and even the occasional gleefully-disorientating reference to Disney, the Arkestra continue to push and pull at the boundaries. Captivating, space-age and at times angelic, their shows are challenging and rewarding in equal measure, a fitting tribute to Sun Ra.
|What||Sun Ra Arkestra, Union Chapel|
|Where||Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, London, N1 2XD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Highbury & Islington (underground)|
On 14 Apr 16, 7:00 PM – 10:30 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Union Chapel website|