Constellation hasn’t hosted a New Year’s Eve bash since the Sun Ra Arkestra’s legendary fete in 2017. This year, the intimate venue ushers in 2023 with homegrown talents who could be considered Constellation all-stars. The evening is headlined by Natural Information Society, led by multi-instrumentalist Joshua Abrams; the five-piece ensemble realizes his teeming compositions (often […]
Since the 1950s, Chicago has hosted a succession of visionary Black musical groups and societies. They’re best known as purveyors of avant-garde jazz, but that characterization sells short Sun Ra and his Arkestra, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and Phil Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble. Each was—and in some cases still is—a […]
The nation may be diseased and broken, but you can still use your Bandcamp dollars to do a small kindness for musicians and labels.
“The satellites are spinning / A better day is breaking / Great happiness is pending / The planet Earth’s awakening.” The first lyrics on the Sun Ra Arkestra’s long-awaited Swirling (Strut), sung by Tara Middleton, sound like a dispatch from a world infinitely more promising than our own. That dogged optimism carries the entire studio […]
People with synesthesia perceive things typically associated with one sense, such as sound, through one or more additional senses, such as sight, taste, smell, or touch—a B-minor chord, for instance, might register as green. A number of famous musicians, including Mary J. Blige, Pharrell Williams, and Lady Gaga, have claimed to have (or are believed […]
A charter member of the AACM and a longtime partner of saxophonist Kidd Jordan, drummer Alvin Fielder was an encyclopedia of jazz history with an eye on the future.
Von Freeman played in Sun Ra’s Arkestra in 1959 and ’60, and this week French horn player and Chicago native Vincent Chancey leads a strong local group through tunes Ra played in those days.
Onetime Sun Ra associate Robert Barry passed away on January 8 at age 85.
Afrofuturist big-band leader Sun Ra left the planet 24 years ago, but his legacy has never been in better shape. Many of his classic sides have been remastered and reissued on vinyl, CD, and file formats, and the Sun Ra Arkestra, which plays his tunes in classic and alternate arrangements, still tours regularly. The celestially […]
Phil Cohran recorded the Artistic Heritage Ensemble’s dazzling, multifaceted debut with some of the most important musicians in Chicago history.
The only solo album by onetime Sun Ra Arkestra member Pat Patrick, probably recorded in the mid-70s, features eight baritone saxophonists.
Portraits of the crowd at Union Park on July 17
Reader writers round up the locals on Pitchfork’s bill, guide fans of hip-hop and R&B into the rest of the roster, discuss the gender balance of the fest’s bookings, and much more.
Kamasi Washington and the Sun Ra Arkestra bring jazz to Pitchfork for the first time since 2007.
The lineup for the three-day festival is out now; here’s info and commentary from Reader critics to get you up for it.