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Classic DVD Review: Sun Ra & His Arkestra | The Cry of Jazz

Yes, it has some cool vintage footage. But this isn't really a Sun Ra movie.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Hold it a minute, Sun Ra fans.

Before you shell out for The Cry of Jazz, know this: Yes, this 35-minute disc contains some impressive ancient black-and-white footage of the space-jazz icon and his band cooking in a Chicago club. But they’re hardly the stars of this 1959 film. In fact, The Cry of Jazz isn’t a jazz film as much as it is a film about jazz and its role in American post-war race relations. Granted, director Edward Bland has an intriguing, if over-intellectualized viewpoint — improvisation represents freedom, musical structure stands in for societal limitations, etc. — but ultimately, you wish he had done less talking and let the Arkestra do more playing.