Sun Ra Arkestra is an experimental jazz band that was created in Birmingham, Alabama in the mid-1950s by founder and creative director Sun Ra. The band has been known by several names including The Solar Myth Arkestra, His Cosmo Discipline Arkestra and Blue Universe Arkestra, paralleling its evolving music with its consistently changing name. Prolific jazz musician, composer, poet and philosopher, Sun Ra was known for his "cosmic philosphy" --he believed he was sent to earth to prepare mankind for the future of space travel-- and his music diversity, sometimes performing with big bands of 30 or more musicians and spanning the history of jazz from ragtime to swing and bebop to free jazz. Sun Ra was a pioneer of electronic music and was one of the first musicians to use fully utilize an electronic keyboard, making the Sun Ra Arkestra a band of past, present and future jazz. His knowledge of electronic music and synthesizers allowed the Sun Ra Arkestra to take on a psychedelic jazz sound that was carried on by Marshall Allen after the death of Sun Ra and his initial successor John Gilmore, in 1993 and 1995 respectively. A student of Sun Ra, Allen joined the Sun Ra Arkestra in 1958 as a master of the alto saxophone, flute, clarinet and obo. Allen has preserved the music of Sun Ra and restored Sun Ra Arkestra with his new and original avant-garde jazz arrangements.
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