Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette
Birmingham was an important stop for touring musicians and he saw prominent musicians such as Fletcher HendersonDuke Ellingtonand Fats Wallerand others now forgotten.
Sun Ra once said, "The world let down a lot of good musicians". In his teenage years, Blount demonstrated prodigious musical talent: many times, according to acquaintances, he went to big band performances and then produced full transcriptions of the bands' songs from memory. Though deeply religious, his family was not formally associated with any Christian church or sect.
Blount had few or no close friends in high school but was remembered as kind-natured and quiet, an honor roll student, and a voracious reader. He took advantage of the Black Masonic Lodge as one of the few places in Birmingham where African Americans had unlimited access to books. Its collection on Freemasonry and other esoteric concepts made a strong impression on him. By his teens, Blount suffered from cryptorchidism. InBlount was offered his first full-time musical job by Ethel Harperhis biology teacher from the high school, who had organized a band to pursue a career as a singer.
Blount joined a musicians' trade union and toured with Harper's group through the US Southeast and Midwest. When Harper left the group mid-tour to move to New York she later was a member of the modestly successful singing group the Ginger SnapsBlount took over leadership of the group, renaming it the Sonny Blount Orchestra.
They continued touring for several months before dissolving as unprofitable. Though the first edition of the Sonny Blount Orchestra was not financially successful, they earned positive notice from fans and other musicians. Blount afterward found steady employment as a musician in Birmingham.
Birmingham clubs often featured exotic trappings, such as vivid lighting and murals with tropical or oasis scenes. Some believe these influenced the elements Sun Ra incorporated Ballet Mechanique Embody EP his later stage shows.
Playing for the big bands gave black musicians a sense of pride and togetherness, and they were highly regarded in the black community. They were expected to be disciplined and presentable, and in the segregated South, black musicians had wide acceptance in white society. They often played for elite white society audiences though they were typically forbidden from associating with the audience.
InWhatley's intercession led to Blount's being awarded The Cat Empire The Cat Empire scholarship at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University.
He was a music education major, studying composition, orchestration, and music theory. He dropped out after a year. Sun Ra soon left college because, he claimed, he had a visionary experience as a college student that Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette a major, long-term influence on him. In orin the midst of deep religious concentration, Sun Ra claimed that a bright light appeared around him, and, as he later said:.
Sun Ra said that this experience occurred in or According to Szwed, the musician's closest associates cannot date the story any earlier than Xenakis Persepolis Ra also said that the incident happened when he was living in Chicago, where he did not settle until the late s. Sun Ra discussed the vision, with no substantive variation, to the end of his life.
His trip to Saturn allegedly occurred a full decade before flying saucers entered public consciousness with the encounter of Kenneth Arnold. Szwed says that, "even if this story is revisionist Joey Sonny Aponte Y Su Orquesta Salsa Son Y Melao Sonny was pulling together several strains of his life.
He was both prophesizing his future and explaining his past with a single act of personal mythology. After leaving college, Blount became known as the most singularly devoted musician in Birmingham. He rarely slept, citing Thomas EdisonLeonardo da Vinciand Napoleon as fellow highly productive cat-nappers. He transformed the first floor of his family's home into a conservatory-workshop, where he wrote songs, transcribed recordings, rehearsed with the many musicians who drifted in and out, and discussed Biblical and esoteric concepts with whomever was interested.
Blount became a regular at Birmingham's Forbes Piano Company, a white-owned company. Blount visited the Forbes building almost daily to play music, swap ideas with staff and customers, or copy Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette music into his notebooks.
The new Sonny Blount Orchestra earned a reputation as an impressive, disciplined band that could play in a wide variety of styles with equal skill. In Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette Blount received a selective Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette notification that he had been drafted into the Military of the United States.
He quickly declared himself a conscientious objectorciting religious objections to war and killing, his financial support of his great-aunt Ida, and his chronic hernia. The local draft board Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette his claim. In an appeal to the national draft board, Blount wrote that the lack of black men on the draft appeal board "smacks of Hitlerism. He was eventually approved for alternate 2 Kilos Mohameds Mind at Civilian Public Service camp in Pennsylvania —but he did not appear at the camp as required on December 8, Shortly after, he was arrested in Alabama.
In court, Blount said that alternate service was unacceptable; he debated the judge on points of law and Biblical interpretation. Though sympathetic, the judge ruled that Blount was violating the law and was at risk for Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette drafted into the U. Blount responded that if inducted, he would use military weapons and training to kill the first high-ranking military officer possible.
The judge Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette Blount to jail pending draft board and CPS rulingsand then said, "I've never seen a nigger like you before. He said he was facing a nervous breakdown from the stress of imprisonment, that he was suicidal, and that he was in constant fear of sexual assault.
When his conscientious objector status was reaffirmed in Februaryhe was escorted to Pennsylvania. He did forestry work as assigned during the day and was allowed to play piano at night. Psychiatrists there described him as "a psychopathic personality [and] sexually perverted," but also as "a well-educated colored intellectual. In Marchthe draft board reclassified Blount as 4-F because of his hernia, and he returned to Birmingham, embittered and angered. He formed a new band and soon was playing professionally.
After his beloved great-aunt Ida died inBlount felt no reason to stay in Birmingham. Dig This Boogie was also Blount's first recorded piano solo. He performed with the locally successful Lil Green band and played bump-and-grind music for months in Calumet City strip clubs. Blount had long admired Henderson, but Henderson's fortunes were fading his band was now made of Various Artistes Ready Steady Go Rock Steady middling musicians rather than the stars of earlier years in large part because of his instability, due to Henderson's long term injuries from a car accident.
Henderson hired Blount as pianist and arranger, replacing Marl Young. Ra's arrangements initially showed a degree of bebop influence, but the band members resisted the new music, despite Henderson's encouragement. InBlount performed briefly in a trio with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and violinist Stuff Smithboth preeminent swing-era musicians. There are no known recordings of this trio, but a home recording of a Blount-Smith duet from appears on Sound Sun Pleasureand one of Sun Ra's final recordings was a rare sideman appearance on violinist Billy Bang 's Tribute to Stuff Smith.
In addition to enabling professional advancement, what he encountered in Chicago changed Blount's personal outlook. The city was a center Gorillaz White Flag African-American political activism and fringe movements, with Black MuslimsBlack Hebrewsand others proselytizing, debating, and printing leaflets or books. Blount absorbed it all and was fascinated with the city's many ancient Egyptian-styled buildings and monuments.
He read books such as George Le Sun Ra And His Arkestra Jazz In Silhouette. James 's Stolen Legacy which argued that classical Greek philosophy had its roots in ancient Egypt. Blount concluded that the accomplishments and history of Africans had been systematically suppressed and denied by European cultures. By Blount was leading the Space Trio with drummer Tommy "Bugs" Hunter and saxophonist Pat Patricktwo of the most accomplished musicians he had known.
They performed KID Fine Time Tonight, and Sun Ra began writing more advanced songs. Sun Ra claimed  to have always been uncomfortable with his birth name of Blount. He considered it a slave namefrom a family that was not his.
Patrick left the group to move to Florida with his new wife. His friend John Gilmore tenor sax joined the group, and Marshall Allen alto sax soon followed.
Patrick was in and out of the group until the end of his life, but Allen and Gilmore were the two most devoted members of the Arkestra. In fact, Gilmore is often criticized for staying with Sun Ra for over forty years when he demonstrated the talent to have been a strong leader in his own right.
The Chicago tenor Von Freeman also did a short stint with the band of the early s. In Chicago, Sun Ra met Alton Abrahama precociously intelligent teenager and something of a kindred spirit. He became the Arkestra's biggest booster and one of Sun Ra's closest friends. My Content Membership has its privileges!
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