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Sun Ra Centenary Session

Jez Nelson introduces a studio session with the Sun Ra Arkestra and guest saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings to celebrate the life of composer and bandleader Sun Ra.

A second chance to hear one of the highlights of 2014 - the Sun Ra Arkestra in session, celebrating the centenary year of the band's iconic leader.

One hundred years since his birth and over twenty since he left for his home planet, Sun Ra remains one of the most intriguing and influential figures in contemporary jazz. His legendary big band, the Arkestra, continues to sell out concert halls worldwide and he is referenced in a wide range of contemporary music and other artforms to this day. There have been several live recordings of the Arkestra since Sun Ra died in 1993 but little in the way of high fidelity studio sessions. Furthermore, while Sun Ra is frequently cited for his outlandish personality and sci-fi stageshows, his substantial achievements as a composer are often overlooked.

To mark his centenary year in 2014, Jazz on 3 presents an ambitious studio session with the core 14-strong Arkestra under the direction of original band-member Marshall Allen. Celebrating Sun Ra's rich songbook, the group performs a mixture of classic and rediscovered repertoire, and also features guest saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings.

Presenter: Jez Nelson
Producer: Joby Waldman

First broadcast 30th June 2014.

1 hour, 30 minutes

Music Played

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Line Up

Marshall Allen – alto sax and EVI
Tara Middleton – vocals and violin
Knoel Scott – alto sax and percussion
Charles Davis – tenor sax
Shabaka Hutchings – tenor sax and bass clarinet
Danny Ray Thompson – baritone sax and percussion
Cecil Brooks – trumpet
Vincent Chancey – French horn
Dave Davis – trombone
Farid Barron – piano
Dave Hotep – guitar
Tylor Mitchell – bass
Elson Nascimento – percussion
Stanley Morgan – percussion
Wayne Smith Jnr – drums

Alexander Hawkins – Co-Producer
Steve Lowe – Engineer
Jonathan Gilmore – Assistant Engineer

Happy Birthday Sun Ra

Happy Birthday Sun Ra
Illustration by Naiel Ibarrola


Jazz Now

Jazz Now

The new home of contemporary jazz on BBC Radio 3