Sun Ra Ra

A nonsequential sound installation in three parts. Installation view bb15 – Space for Contemporary Art in Linz, Austria.

On his first visit to the Ghetto Biennale in Haiti, Belgian artist Tom Bogaert heard something familiar in the rara marching music that was being played in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Already doing work on the interplanetary jazz legend Sun Ra’s visit to Egypt in the early 1970s, Bogaert read in the dog-eared pages of an old copy of the Lonely Planet that Sun Ra was also rumoured to have visited Haiti, perhaps ten years earlier, during his so-called ‘lost years.’

It was even said that Sun Ra might have composed his masterpiece Rocket Number Nine, in Port-au-Prince. What Bogaert heard in the streets made him believe this could be true and, even more so, he found out that Rocket Number Nine has its roots in the traditional rara song Fize Nimewo Nèf.

Bogaert collaborated with the local rara band Kod Kreyòl to study and rehearse the somewhat forgotten Fize Nimewo Nèf, and a Clocktower Radio sound engineer recorded some of the early morning practice sessions that took place in the garden of the Oloffson Hotel. A while later, Kod Kreyòl performed Fize Nimewo Nèf at a now legendary concert in downtown Port-au-Prince featuring Masha Dabelka and her Rakete Nummer Neun.

Thank you! Kod Kreyòl: Arnaud Lauture (Chef d’orchestre – Maestro Tambourineur) Josil Joseph Rebert (Adjoint Tambourineur) Jean Ernst (Tambourineur) Nadine Frédérique (Chanteuse – Lead Vocal) Béatrice Frédérique (Chanteuse – Chœur) Vladimir Grégoire (Maestro du Cornet) Remy Robenson (Maestro du Cornet) Jules Ceremond (Cornet) George Elie Voyard (Cornet) Nestor Ricardo (Cornet) and Annel Saintermont (Grage) Ghetto Biennale: Andre Eugene, Leah Gordon, Lazaros, Liz Woodroffe, Cat Barich, Evel Romain, Maccha Kasparian, and Claudel Casseus Sound: Richard Arthur Fleming Album covers: Michel Lafleur, Patrick Elie, Brinele James Telus, Leah Gordon, Zé Kielwagen, Kwynn Johnson, Jean Louis Lens, Michael K. Taylor, Radhika Khimji, Anna Sebastian, Lee Lee, Jean Robert Alexis, Mackendy Tidé, JRM, Henrike Neuman, Steve Thales, Alexandre Esther, Gustavo Caboco, Jerry Jonatan, Gina Cunningham, Alexon Istia, and Jean-Claude Saintilus.

Photos by bb15 / Laurien Bachmann