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The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening

by Chris Raschka

Published by Candlewick Press, 2014
36 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5806-9

Ages 6-10

A joyful and inspired introduction to jazz pianist, composer, and conductor Sun Ra (Herman“Sonny” Blount), who “always said he came from Saturn.” Author/illustrator Chris Raschka works with that conceit in a volume that celebrates Sun Ra’s brilliant creativity that sometimes seemed otherworldly. “Being from another planet, Sun Ra was naturally interested in everything earthy….most of all, music! It was the thing about the earth that was most like the stars.” Sun Ra navigates a childhood and young adulthood among humans who sorted themselves by color (“Sun Ra was sorted into the black variety”). A conscientious objector during World War II, he eventually settled in Chicago, attracting other musicians, experimenting with an electronic keyboard, and forming the Arkestra, a vibrant ensemble that moved to New York, and then Philadelphia, before traveling the world. Dressed in colorful robes they made themselves, the musicians followed Sun Ra’s lead, playing music that “might be crisp and tight one moment, then wild and free the next.” Illustrations that vibrate with movement and color capture that sense of freedom. As Sun Ra said before he left earth, “You may think that it is gravity that holds us all together but it is not—it is music.” A list of selected recordings and a brief note offering additional information about Sun Ra conclude this work.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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