The Sun Ra Arkestra landed at The Met in Pawtucket Sunday, May 21, performing a high-energy show before a sold out crowd. For the uninitiated, the band, active since the mid 1950’s, pioneered an afro-futurist sound, incorporating aspects of big band jazz, swing, fusion, and beyond. With numerous albums and videos available online, this band doesn’t have to be seen to be appreciated, but seeing them live takes it to a whole nother level.
98-year-old Bandleader Marshall Allen, who joined the band in 1958 and has led the Arkestra since 1993, was celebrated with a proclamation from the State of Rhode Island and formal greetings from the Mayor of Pawtucket before the show. He turns 99 on Wednesday.
Loose and limber, and totally in control of the band, Allen takes the collective on a journey from a cacophony of free jazz to bossa nova, with many stops along the way, a cosmic melange that is hard to pin down but always exciting.
The Arkestra was preceded with a pair of fine performances from Shabazz Palaces and the Leland Baker Quintet. Check out a few photos of the evening below from Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams.