From the Chicago Reader:
May 22 was the official centennial of the birth of the brilliant bandleader, composer, and keyboardist Sun Ra, but I’m thankful that the entire year is being used to celebrate his memory and particular brand of visionary genius. Chicago, where Herman Poole Blount (a native of Birmingham, Alabama) assembled the earliest versions of his Arkestra in 1953, has gotten in on the act in numerous ways, but some of the most exciting events are happening this week. Yesterday, as part of the Chicago Jazz Festival, saxophonist Marshall Allen (who took the reins of Arkestra after the death of fellow saxophonist John Gilmore in 1995, two years after Ra passed away), trumpeter Art Hoyle (who played with the Arkestra in the 50s), writer and Columbia University professor John Szwed (who authored the authoritative Sun Ra biography Space Is the Place), and writer, gallerist, and Sun Ra scholar John Corbett engaged in a lively, discursive panel discussion on Ra’s legacy at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall. And on Sunday, Allen will lead the Arkestra in a performance that will close out this year’s festival, with an 8:30 PM set at Pritzker Pavilion.