Sun Ra Arkestra played a free show at SummerStage in Central Park on Saturday. Marshall Allen, 97 years young, still leads the Arkestra, and was up playing the whole 90 minute show, laying down saxophone, his skronky EVI (electronic valve instrument), and even a little gong. As always, it was a joyous show ending with the Sun Ra classic "Space is the Place."

The concert was opened by Chicago's Sistazz of the Nitty Gritty, the trio of Angel Bat Dawid (vocals/clarinet), Taylor Deshay (bass/vocals), and Anaiet (piano/vocals), and the evening started with the screening of two short films (Martin Hawk's "A Litany for Survival" and Adrien Merigeau's "Genius Loci"), and DJ Greg Caz spun records in between sets.

There were no bleachers at Rumsey Playfield, unlike in past SummerStage seasons, and the crowd was fairly spaced out for the films and Sistazz of the Nitty Gritty's set, but they were on their feet and much closer to the stage (and together) during Sun Ra Arkestra's set. Photos from the whole evening are in this post.

Sun Ra Arkestra's only upcoming show is Buffalo's Asbury Hall on September 2, though we're hoping for a forecast of Summer Thunder at Union Pool later this season.

photos by Ellen Qbertplaya