Robert Mugge, 1980, 60 min.
In honor of the 100th anniversary of Sun Ra’s birth on May 22, 1914, Black Cinema House presents Robert Mugge’s iconic portrait of Sun Ra and his Arkestra in a brand-new Blu-Ray projection.
With Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise, Mugge takes on a key figure in avant-garde jazz during the last 50 years. Best known for his pioneering use of electronic keyboards (Ra rising through the floor, luminous, playing wildly on a multi-tiered organ topped by a glowing orb), African polyrhythms (as dancers float across the stage, through the aisles), free-form improvisation (the band doesn’t often know what’s coming next; “in the future, they’ll know even less,” he says), big band bop (the ever-changing Arkestra: eight reeds, three bass, four percussionists, two drummers, guitars, basses, dancers, singers, vibes…). Sun Ra sells out stadiums in Europe, but the Arkestra sometimes outnumbers the audience in the States. His music is part of a personal (perhaps) mythology that combines visions of interplanetary travel with magical glimpses of ancient Egypt, his vision is part of a music imbued with unique spiritual force.
The film includes interviews and concert footage, and was filmed in Philadelphia in the Egyptian room of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, on the roof of International House and a nightclub called Danny’s Hollywood Palace, at the Pharaoh’s Den food store, in a sculpture garden in Fairmount Park, at the home of Sun Ra and other band members in the Germantown section of the city, in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., among others. This isn’t the complete Sun Ra, but it is a penetrating look at one of the most original and creative artists of our time.
Director Robert Mugge in attendance!
Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave.