Spaceways | Chicago Reader

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With his exuberantly chaotic music, free-jazz innovator Sun Ra probably captured the spirit of the tumultuous 60s better than most rock bands. This promo reel (1968, 20 min.) by beat filmmaker Edward English, commissioned by the rock and avant-garde jazz label ESP Disk, makes that point explicitly by piecing together Ra's colorful commentary on the sound track and juxtaposing performance footage of him with his Arkestra and news footage of antiwar and civil rights protests. The color print being screened has faded to sepia, but it's valuable as pop history if nothing else. Also screening: performance footage of the Arkestra in France during its first European tour in 1970 and of Arkestra tenor sax John Gilmore with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in the mid-60s.

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