As the sun began to sink low on the recently wetted 40th Street Field in University City, the notes of another sun began to rise. The Sun Ra Arkestra gave a rare hometown appearance this past Saturday the 28th, as part of the ongoing 40th Street Summer Series. A brief sun shower during setup broke the heat of the evening, giving patrons some of the first real summer breezes of the year. Families and students alike lined up to cop their complimentary Rita’s water ice, necks craned back towards the stage, knowing that soon, the Philly’s favorite Saturanian angels would be descending.
The Sun Ra Arkestra have collectively lived in Germantown on and off since the late Sun Ra himself relocated to Philadelphia in 1968, and have continued to have a great presence in West and greater Philly. The Arkestra was lead under the conduction of saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen, who has lead the group since the death of former bandleader, John Gilmore in 1995. The often revolving-door-lineup of the Arkestra, not to mention the ascension of Sun Ra himself in 1993, has done little to hinder the group from continuing to carry on in the tradition of making free, innovative music.