The Secret History of American Popular Music

This is going to be one of the musical events of the year: starting at midnight tonight, WKCR is honoring the centennial of Sun Ra with non-stop music through May 25.

What makes this so important is that Ra was both prolific and obscure, and there are bound to be recordings from the archives that are nowhere to be found via the direct or after-markets. Check the link above for schedule and listen as much as you can, because nothing and no one explains the weird, contradictory, insane and beautiful roots of American popular music like Sunny does. Here’s the essential primer, and I do mean essential, this needs to be in your music library.

SunRa1

UPDATE: The iTunes store has set up a page with a substantial collection of digital releases. (h/t Hank Shteamer)

gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.