Sun Ra in Spain 1985

As you may have realized, this blog is mostly dealing with jazz from all periods. And of course nothing is a better bridge from the ancient times to the future than the music of Sun Ra, the cosmic messenger. When I started to listen to jazz in the mid 1980s, I was mostly fascinated by the free music of the 1960s. And it was Sun Ra that showed me how to proceed back in time in my listening pleasures. I witnessed Sun Ra leading the Arkestra five or six times from 1987 to 1990. And it was my love for Sun Ra’s music that was responsible for me and the swiss jazz researcher and collector Otto Flückiger becoming friends. I got to know Otto when I visited the Sun Ra exhibition at the Jazz Museum in Arlesheim that he had curated in the early 1990s (Otto had also written the first Sun Ra discography back in 1962!).

While going through my old VHS cassettes, I found a TV broadcast from the end of July 1985 when the Arkestra was playing in Spain at the Jazzaldia Festival in Donostia-San Sebastián (Basque Country), which I am presenting here in two parts. In part 1 Sun Ra and his Arkestra play Discipline 27-II, I’ll Wait For You, an unidentified Blues, Yeah Man!, Prelude To A Kiss, Mack The Knife

You will see and hear Sun Ra (p, syn, voc); Ronnie Brown (tp); Tyrone Hill (tb); Marshall Allen (as, fl, ob, perc); John Gilmore (ts, cl, timb, voc); Ronald Wilson (picc, ts); Danny Ray Thompson (bars, perc); Eloe Omoe (as, bcl, cacl, perc); James Jacson (bsn, fl, Ancient Egyptian Infinity Drum); Bruce Edwards (eg); Rollo Radford (double eb); Tommy “Bugs” Hunter (dr); Avreeayl Amen Ra (dr); unidentified (perc); June Tyson (voc) and an unidentified dancer.

Part 2 consists of Love In Outer Space and The Shadow World.

Blog follower Agustín Pérez was so nice as to send me the poster for the Jazzaldia 1985 festival as well as a review of  Sun Ra’s appearance. Thank you very much, Agustín!

And here is the review (pdf): ABC-1985.07.20


12 Responses to “Sun Ra in Spain 1985”

  1. The Sun Ra concert took place on July 18, 1985, billed as Sun Ra Intergalactic Arkestra.

    The personal listing is somehow different, according to the official records of the San Sebastián Jazz Festival (Jazzaldia):

    Sun Ra (tec)
    John Gilmore (s)
    Marshall Allen(s)
    James Jackson (s)
    Elo Omoe (s)
    Danny Thompson (s)
    Ronald Wilson (s)
    Tyrone Hill (tb)
    Martin Banks (tp)
    Ronnie Brown (tp)
    Rollo Red Ford (b)
    John Brown (bat)
    Don Mumford (bat)
    Bruce Edwards (g)
    June Tyson (voc)
    Myriam Broche (baile) – hence, she was the unidentified dancer

    If you want, I can provide poster from the XX Jazzaldia, and reviews from the main Spanish newspapers of the time.

    Best regards,
    Agustín Pérez

    • Yes, getting the poster and the reviews would be very nice: In regard to the personnel: With the Arkestra often what is written in the advance program differs from what really happened on stage. I will see if I can compare pictures of the drummers in question – and if there is more than one trumpet player.

    • Agustin,

      Sun Ra specialists Robert L. Campbell and Chis Trent (in their book “The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (2nd edition)”) only have Ronnie Brown on trumpet – and indeed there is only one trumpeter in this video.
      They have Avreeayl Amen Ra on drums (that would be the one on the left (as viewed from the audience) with the big glasses. Other concerts from the same tour were taped by Avreeayl Amen Ra.
      Following Campbell and Trent the other drummer should be Thomas “Bugs” Hunter. I do not have any photos of Hunter, but the drummer on the right looks older than Don Mumford who would have been 31 at that time. I do not have John Szwed’s Sun Ra biography right here, but Hunter must have been in his mid forties at that time or maybe a little older – which fits the drummer on the right perfectly.

      The only documented work that John Brown did with Sun Ra was for two video clips at an unknown date in 1986.

    • Thank you so much for the videos! 🙂 The drummer on the right with the red hat and extended solo is definitely not Don Mumford, he doesn’t look anything like him. But there is another drummer somewhere to the side, briefly shown around 9:15 and 9:50, that could be Don, I’m not sure. You can compare it the photo in this news article and make your own guess. Thanks again for the videos.

    • Haf=-fa Says:

      You are spot on Agustin,
      I was travelled with Sonny and band, the concert in Madrid
      I also recalled Don Moye at the gig, Art Ensemble of Chicago was probably of a festival

  2. I am not a Sun Ra specialist at all, so I cannot offer any particular insight on the personnel for that concert, and of course will not contradict what is written in the Sun Ra discography by scholars Robert L. Campbell and Chris Trent. I just transcribed what is listed in the Jazzaldia archives, which, as you point out, may be taken from the advance program.

    Let me know your email address and I will send pdf/jpeg files with the poster (small size) and the reviews.

    Best regards,

    • I have send you an email

    • Your are spot on Agustin with the line up.
      I travelled to Spain with Sonny and the band, Don Moye showed up at the concert so I guess Art Ensemble of Chicago was on the bill as part of the festival.

    • Your are spot on Agustin with the line up.
      I travelled to Spain with Sonny and the band, Don Moye showed up at the concert so I guess Art Ensemble of Chicago was on the bill as part of the festival.

  3. Fantastic video. THANK YOU!!!

  4. i did not know that ‘i’ll wait for you’ was such a rocking tune. then i realized that i had opened both videos in youtube…

    thanks for the videos!


  5. a rough time line of the videos:

    Sun Ra Intergalactic Arkestra
    Jazzaldia Festival
    Donostia-San Sebastián (Basque Country), Spain
    T.V.E. television broadcast (color)
    July 18, 1985 07-18-85

    Part 1 (of 2) (34:59)
    00:00 – video but no sound >
    00:05 – (x) I’ll Wait For You >
    01:47 – improv w/ sax solo >
    05:14 – I’ll Wait For You
    06:41 – unidentified blues
    16:32 – Yeah Man!
    19:41 – Prelude to a Kiss
    24:24 – Mack the Knife
    34:54 – end of part 1
    34:59 – end of clip

    Part 2 (of 2) (17:23)
    00:00 – applause
    00:04 – Love In Outer Space >
    04:26 – ancient ethiopian drum solo >
    06:05 – drum (stage left) solo >
    09:17 – with John Gilmore on percussion and stage right drummer >
    10:27 – ancient ethiopian drum solo > applause
    11:22 – The Shadow World
    16:45 – credits roll over video
    17:21 – end part 2
    17:23 – end of clip


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