Book Review: Rock & Roll Books

A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism

Rock & Roll Books

Here's a valiant and largely successful effort to put into context the tenets of Afrofuturism, a fascination with ancient Egypt, and intergalactic space jazz, all pillars in the amazing career of pianist, composer, bandleader, activist, and Saturnian Herman "Sonny" Blount, aka Sun Ra (1914-1993). In so doing, Paul Youngquist, English professor at University of Colorado Boulder, presents a dense, academic assessment that's enlightening but best suited for die-hard fans. He cedes to and often quotes from the more traditionally linear biographical terrain of John Szwed's acclaimed 1997 Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra. While building a framework for his subject's social activism through music, Youngquist also takes long, if intriguing, detours into the NASA space program, "interplanetary exotica," and "immeasurable equations." Once the dust clears, Sun Ra's pioneering use of early electronic keyboards including the mini-Moog reiterate that space is still the place.


A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism

by Paul Youngquist
University of Texas Press, 372 pp., $27.95
READ MORE
More Sun Ra
Mothership Connection
Mothership Connection
Banging hip-hop from worlds away

Chase Hoffberger, July 25, 2008

More Music Reviews
Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale
Pretty Paper: A Christmas Tale

Tim Stegall, Dec. 2, 2016

Book Review: Texas Book Festival Music Reviews
Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark
The dean of Lone Star songwriting documented at the 11th hour

Doug Freeman, Nov. 4, 2016

More by Jay Trachtenberg
<i>American War</i> by Omar El Akkad
American War by Omar El Akkad
This dystopian novel of a late 21st century America split by civil war shows how vengeance survives down the generations

April 21, 2017

An Intimate Look at Guitar Virtuoso Bill Frisell
An Intimate Look at Guitar Virtuoso Bill Frisell
Film showcases an oeuvre of remarkable diversity

March 10, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Sun Ra, Gift Guide 2016, Herman Blount

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)