Sun Ra Arkestra

Marshall Allen. Source:
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Not to be morbid, but we’re living in a time when many of the jazz masters — the greats whose works have defined the genre — are leaving us. It’s wise to catch their shows while you can.

Then you’ve got the Sun Ra Arkestra, whose shows carry the same ominous weight (band director Marshall Allen is 89), but with extra baggage: It’s an avant-jazz big band, sort of a double whammy for promoters trying to book shows. Despite the band’s fame, a California trip can’t be easy.

But they’re making the effort in August:

  • Fri., Aug. 2 — Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz
  • Sat., Aug. 3 — Victoria Theatre, San Francisco
  • Sun., Aug. 4 — Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles. Yes, the freakin’ Hollywood Bowl!

It sounds like the Arkestra will play one set per show, preceded by an opening act or two. In San Francisco, that’s going to be the¬†sfSound¬†ensemble, playing Penderecki’s composition for Don Cherry’s Jazz Orchestra, and Hans Grusel’s Krankenkabinet, which is …. you know, it’s better if you just see for yourself.

For the San Francisco show, tickets are $25 for regular admission, or $50 for “gold circle” status that includes a T-shirt, an autographed poster, a keychain, and, of course, special seating. The Kuumbwa arrangement is similar, with slightly lower prices.

SF tickets are available online or at a few venues including Aquarius Records.