Academic journal article Language Arts

The Cosmo-Biography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening

Academic journal article Language Arts

The Cosmo-Biography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening

Article excerpt

The Cosmo-Biography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening Written and illustrated by Chris Raschka Candlewick, 2014, unpaged, ISBN 978-0-7636-5806-9

"Sun Ra always said that he came from Saturn. Now, you know and I know that . . . . No one comes from Saturn. And yet. If he did come from Saturn, it would explain so much. Let's say he did come from Saturn." So begins Raschka's honest and respectful picturebook biography of legendary jazz trailblazer Sun Ra, né Herman "Sonny" Blount (1914-1993) that pays tribute to his incredible musical range and intriguing cosmic philosophy.

In easygoing prose, Raschka highlights Sun Ra's early life, challenges he faced as a man, his "far out" musical and personal style, and his multifaceted creativity, including interesting specifics, such as how Sun Ra made his own dazzling clothes, was a conscientious objector, and had difficulties managing money. Raschka's exuberantly expressionistic, multilayered, watercolor-and-black-ink illustrations mirror the subtleties and improvisational nature of jazz and the unique complexity of Sun Ra's life and music. …

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