Sun Ra in Chronological Order: An Arkestra Listening Thread + Related Solar Sounds

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greetings, earthlings!

we begin our adventure with sonny's "first commercial recordings" (zwed, p. 51) -- four sides as pianist for wynonie harris, recorded in nashville, 1946.

http://campber.people.clemson.edu/bullet251arc.jpg
listen on youtube

i've found that this article is a supremely helpful resource for the early years. here's what campbell et al. have to say:

One transition in his career about which we can safely say that "cosmic forces" were not in control took place in January 1946, when Sonny, fed up with segregation and lack of musical opportunities, bought a one-way train ticket to Chicago. He was soon out on the road in a combo led by alto saxophonist Jimmie Jackson. For three or four months they played Club Zanzibar in Nashville, where they backed the touring blues singer Wynonie Harris. An unlikely setting, maybe. But Harris already had made several hit records on the West Coast, and a brand-new local label started by a radio announcer saw fit to capitalize. Label owner Jim Bulliet cut a deal with Harris's manager, Harold Oxley, and Harris and combo (with the old fashioned rhythm section of piano and drums) made four sides. One of them was Sonny's feature, Dig This Boogie. He'd obviously learned his blues lessons. In fact, he'd developed a few tricks of his own, like deliberately dropping beats and picking them up in the next line.

some other good links as we get started:

SUN RA'S DISCOGRAPHY IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Sun Ra, the ultimate album guide
Sun Ra Arkive

for the most part, though, we'll be going by arkestra (usually LP) release date as listed on discogs

finally, PLEASE feel free to interject with whatever chronological arcana you feel might be applicable, or to point out discrepancies, or to suggest alternate takes, bootlegs, archival material of interest, etc. ultimately this thread is about listening to as much sun ra as possible, with a minimum of academic quibbling, but i don't see any problem with the more astute among you opening doorways to ever-deeper directions of listening, even if this thread probably can't incorporate the entirety of the sun ra omniverse.

next up: the singles

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:04 (two years ago) link

bookmarked

sleeve, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:05 (two years ago) link

whoops that's SZWED, as in john f. szwed, as in the author of "space is the place: the lives and times of sun ra"

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:08 (two years ago) link

thank you budo jeru for starting this up! thanks for the extra links and article excerpt in the first post, as well. i know it's more work but i loooove those extra post elements. it feels like turning the page in a magazine and finding an especially good scratch n sniff perfume ad.

i'm excited to learn a lot more about sun ra. i only know a few of what i think are his better known albums (heliocentric worlds, space is the place, jazz by / sun song, the futuristic sounds of), along with other snippets of his albums that will pop up on playlists and mixes. it's all good. even in my limited listening his versatility has become so apparent. anyway, i feel like i'm ready for a deep dive.

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:16 (two years ago) link

btw i started a spotify playlist here.

WARNING: i was just using the discogs release date as my guide, so it starts with supersonic jazz and goes forward from there. but i already added in the first song posted above, and i'll fill in the others as they get posted to keep it up to date.

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:21 (two years ago) link

I saw Karl Malone's post this morning and cued up what of his linked discogs list is on spotify. Stunned to find about 80% of it! I'm now five albums in (When The Sun Comes Out) and am loving every minute. Sun Ra has for me been an artist who I never thought I'd have to the resolve to approach systematically so I'm thankful for this thread.

Yelploaf, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:22 (two years ago) link

Thanks bodo and Karl!

Jeff W, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:30 (two years ago) link

i haven't started a new year off so right in a very long time. 2018 is going to be different. it's an even number!

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:31 (two years ago) link

Looking forward to this - great thread

raise my chicken finger (Willl), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:37 (two years ago) link

it's an even number!
my people

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:49 (two years ago) link

:D

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:51 (two years ago) link

thanks for the spotify playlist, KM!

btw 2018 is the year of the DOG [from OE, docga] >>> D O C G A

or, AD COG (ad cogitationem, "toward reflection")

https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/dog+in+stars+small-290x300.jpg

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 20:41 (two years ago) link

i dig that boogie! this is a cool thread idea ... not sure if I'll be able to do the whole thing, but will definitely be checking in.

tylerw, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 20:42 (two years ago) link

budo jeru i don't envy the task of having to decide what is "chronological". there are all these side recordings, home and rehearsal recordings, things that were recorded early but released much later. whichever way you go, i'll try to make the playlist match up where possible!

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 20:44 (two years ago) link

yeah i don't plan on sweating it too much. close enough will be fine and, like i said initially, anyone is welcome to jump in with corrections / objections.

in terms of your playlist, i'll say right off the bat that sun ra plays on all of the four last songs on that wynonie harris comp, so you might add the other three after "dig this boogie"

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 20:52 (two years ago) link

got it! i wasn't sure if you were going to go song by song or not. release by release makes sense because holy shit there's a lot.

Karl Malone, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 20:58 (two years ago) link

stoked for this thread and ready to get schooled!

global tetrahedron, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 21:04 (two years ago) link

i think my favorite moment from this first recording session is the piano accompaniment during the trumpet solo on "my baby's barrelhouse blues" and then into the last vocal stanza or whatever.

also the lyrics !!! geez

i'm gonna snatch me a picket off o' somebody's barbwire fence,
i'm gonna beat you 'side your head until you learn some sense

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 21:28 (two years ago) link

when i first heard this early ra arrangement i said: that's so ra! but he didn't play on it so it doesn't really count here...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9qavDaeXRM

scott seward, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 21:55 (two years ago) link

yeah that's a killer side.

also cf. szwed:

... he began rehearsing the band for Saunders and playing in the relief band that filled in when Saunders was off. Every week Saunders handed him new arrangements for the floor show, but during rehearsals Sonny began to make small changes -- a note here and there, an alternation in a chord -- but as time went on the changes became increasingly dramatic. During rehearsal one day Saunders walked in, looked over an arrangement, and shook his head when he saw the crossed-out notes and inserted harmonies: "I give you these nice, clean arrangements each week, and look what you do with them! ... But, damn, they sure sound good, though." Sonny was now rewriting arrangements used to accompany singers like B.B. King, Laverne Baker, Dakota Staton, Joe Williams, Johnny Guitar Watson, Sarah Vaughan, and Lorenz Alexandria.

and then, on the instrumental side, there's his amazing arrangement of 'summertime' (also for red saunders)

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 22:22 (two years ago) link

Lorez Alexandria***

budo jeru, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 22:23 (two years ago) link

OK I'm already confused, I'll have to try and damp down my OCD in this thread

Jazz By Sun Ra/Sun Song has ten songs, but only five are in the playlist? Maybe this is a Spotify availability thing idk

Technically (at least acc. to Szwed) the tracks "Super Blonde", "Soft Talk", "Springtime In Chicago" and "Medicine For A Nightmare" were recorded in "early 1956", as opposed to the Sun Song sessions from July, so those four tracks should come before the Sun Song/Jazz By Sun Ra tracks as opposed to the rest of the Supersonic Jazz tracks

really enjoying the early records, thanks for this thread

also keep in mind that lots of the remasters are now on Bandcamp

sleeve, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 01:57 (two years ago) link

man it all goes weird when you get to "India", huh? jazz heads back then must have not known what hit 'em

I can def. hear the exotica influence on this track, Martin Denny percussion vibes

sleeve, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 02:05 (two years ago) link

Jazz By Sun Ra/Sun Song has ten songs, but only five are in the playlist? Maybe this is a Spotify availability thing idk

nah, i just fucked up. fixed!

i'm really getting ahead of myself anyway - i was just planning on adding to the playlist as this thread progresses, but i jumped the gun yesterday and already started adding the first few albums.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 02:06 (two years ago) link

Technically (at least acc. to Szwed) the tracks "Super Blonde", "Soft Talk", "Springtime In Chicago" and "Medicine For A Nightmare" were recorded in "early 1956", as opposed to the Sun Song sessions from July, so those four tracks should come before the Sun Song/Jazz By Sun Ra tracks as opposed to the rest of the Supersonic Jazz tracks

on this though, i have to make clear upfront that i probably won't be this meticulous. i don't have the szwed book so i was just planning on placing the albums/singles into the playlist in full as we cover them in this thread, according to their release date, rather than splitting them up in the playlist according to their recording date.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 02:09 (two years ago) link

haha that's fine, unless you looked at everything in advance I'm sure we'd miss some (for example, we've already missed some tracks that appeared much later on "Purple Night". we can note tracks w/different/older dates when we get to those albums in order of release.

now I need to go back and listen to those other five tracks! thanks.

sleeve, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 02:17 (two years ago) link

there's also this recent find from the archives, which is great and not on Youtube unfortunately:

https://www.discogs.com/Sun-Ra-Its-A-Good-Day/release/10452067

recorded 1955

sleeve, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 02:22 (two years ago) link

I was just reading his wiki bio and had not realized he was buried in Birmingham. I guess I'd assumed he was buried in Philadelphia. I think I'll try to make a brief pilgrimage to his grave in 2018.

WilliamC, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 03:02 (two years ago) link

the magic city

the late great, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 03:24 (two years ago) link

So this thread could potentially go on forever, right?

At least it's good music and not greatest outtakes of The Eagles or some such.

Moodles, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 03:39 (two years ago) link

i'm on board though as always spotify is out for me. are we going to cover the doo-wop stuff at all? because man i love his doo-wop stuff, and if we're getting into his mambo i want to talk about "teenager's letter of promises".

bob lefse (rushomancy), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 03:45 (two years ago) link

sleeve: thanks for your diligence. it's sure to be useful at almost every point (i'll do my best, too). and yeah, pointing out discrepancies as they come up between release / recording date -- that's what i had in mind. otherwise i'd just feel incapacitated. we'll sort it all out as we go.

rushomancy: we'll definitely cover the doo wop stuff. re: listening, since KM is doing spotify, i'm trying to post youtube links as we go along. there's also the (official, more or less) sun ra bandcamp: https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/ (and that material is also available on itunes)

So this thread could potentially go on forever, right?

yeah.

budo jeru, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 04:17 (two years ago) link

hopefully!

the late great, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 04:50 (two years ago) link

interlude, 1948-1954

most of this information and ALL of the quoted text comes from this article, which i HIGHLY recommend for its exhaustive coverage of sun ra's chicago period through 1961: From Sonny Blount to Sun Ra: The Chicago Years

1. the "deep purple" duet with stuff smith, recorded in 1948 and first made available in 1973 on saturn 485

http://campber.people.clemson.edu/saturn485act.jpg
listen on youtube

On his very first tape machine, Sonny recorded Stuff Smith and himself playing in his tiny apartment at 5414 South Prairie Avenue. They performed a duet featuring the Solovox, a primitive electronic instrument that Sonny had picked up back in 1941, while still in Birmingham. Sonny had a thing about purple (he thought people would be healthier if they ate more purple food). He released Deep Purple nearly a quarter century later on his Saturn label, and the tune remained in his repertoire for the rest of his career. It would be featured on his very last recording session, when he accompanied Billy Bang for Soul Note in 1992.

2. solo church organ recording, 1948

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPO7oY8riXc

3. piano accompaniment for the dozier boys

http://campber.people.clemson.edu/aristocrat3002a.jpg
listen on youtube

In October 1948, Sonny became the music director of a successful medium-sized band. Bassist Gene Wright, at the tender of age of 23, was simultaneously running a big band and a 10 or 11 piece aggregration called the Dukes of Swing (two previous incarnations of the Dukes had been in operation in 1943 and 1946). For a while, the big band was upstairs in the Pershing Ballroom while the Dukes held the gig at the Beige Room (as the basement club in the Pershing Hotel was then known). During most of the engagement, the Dukes worked with a vocal-instrumental quartet called the Dozier Boys. Sonny composed or arranged the Dukes' entire book. Many of these pieces were of a strictly functional nature (floor shows again) but their theme number was a suite based on the theme from Spellbound, an ambitious work by composer Miklos Rozsa. If only we were lucky enough to have that on record....

The engagement with the Dukes did bring Sonny some recording work, first as session pianist for the Dozier Boys, then with the entire band. Both sesssions were done for the fledgling Aristocrat label. It was the Doziers who came to the company's attention first, courtesy of bassist and songwriter Willie Dixon.

4. various solo, duet, and trio recordings made at home w/ the ampex. many featuring the nu-sounds of the solovox. most of these recordings are available on the norton and transparency labels (see article linked at beginning of post for specifics). some of these recordings document SR's first compositions, performed by his proto-arkestra small combo.

In 1950 or 1951, he started a band to play his own, frankly far-out music. He called it the Space Trio: one charter member was Laurdine "Pat" Patrick (1929 - 1991), who played alto and baritone sax. The drum chair was occupied on some occasions by Tommy Hunter. On other occasions it was taken by Robert Barry, who would soon emerge as a leading bebop drummer in town.

5. arrangements and accompaniment for the red saunders orchestra, 1948-1953 (see szwed quote upthread). red saunders backed joe williams (see scott's post above), lavern baker, jo jo adams, and dorothy donegan.

http://campber.people.clemson.edu/bluelake101a.jpg

1953 was the year of the arrangements. Sunny was making no commercial recordings of his own, and probably didn't feel that his experimental ensemble was ready to make them. But he was willing now to put his stamp on arrangements written for others, to a degree not previously heard. His name did not appear on a single record label in 1953—in one case the band's didn't either—but Red Saunders was now recording his aggressively "modern" arrangements: "Voodoo Blues," "It's Raining Again," "Summertime." And the opening bars of "Call My Baby" announce, for all who care to hear, that Sun Ra has arrived.

6. six cuts with coleman hawkins, rec. 1953 and released in 1955 on savoy

https://img.discogs.com/CcbBqut9Rvf616wHhj-torO4Le4=/fit-in/592x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-7877514-1450726598-7314.jpeg.jpg

7. possible arrangement for king kolax, 1954

https://img.discogs.com/iUxyQwP098dGUe58pXDsSJLoKeQ=/fit-in/600x601/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-9243083-1477238533-6355.png.jpg
listen on youtube

There is no need for Sun Ra arrangements (or anybody's arrangements) on generic jump band-style R&B like "Right Now," "What Have You Done to Me?," or "Goodnite Blues." However, "Vivian" (presumably named after Vivian Carter of Vee-Jay) is a mysterioso Latin number with percussion breaks built right into the theme. Off the beaten path for King Kolax, but straightforward for Sun Ra at this time. Harold Ousley did not want to rule out "Vivian" as a Sun Ra arrangement either: "Kolax wrote a lot himself, but he also used a lot of other people's stuff."

OKAY! that gets us into 1954/1955, so next we'll move onto the nu sounds / cosmic rays stuff and the rest of THE SINGLES

budo jeru, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 07:56 (two years ago) link

That Red Saunders "Summertime" is Ra all over.
https://open.spotify.com/album/6olv4cjXzSpX72WATWZomA

WilliamC, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 14:00 (two years ago) link

oh man, this is a good batch of stuff! the meager musical critical sensibilities i have fall to the wayside when i hear early 1950s music. just about everything of the period sounds good to me.

i updated the playlist where i could - red saunders "summertime", "riverboat", and the red saunders orchestra's "honky tonk train blues". but spotify is missing the sun ra releases that feature a lot of his early recordings through the late 40s and early 50s - Deep Purple (or Dreams Come True) - as well as most of saunders' other recordings. and no dozier boys or king kolax, sadly.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 15:31 (two years ago) link

man it all goes weird when you get to "India", huh? jazz heads back then must have not known what hit 'em

"Sun Song" gets there first imo

(the blues version in his Broadway show) (crüt), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 15:50 (two years ago) link

OK I'll give that a closer listen, thanks! I was making dinner for some of the Spotify playlist last night and I think that's one of the tracks that Karl added later

sleeve, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 15:55 (two years ago) link

yeah, it's definitely a work in progress! and any track in the playlist beyond what budo jeru has posted here is very, very provisional.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 16:17 (two years ago) link

those Red Saunders tracks are so good

Brad C., Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:23 (two years ago) link

wow, that version of "deep purple" with stuff smith from 1948 is so good. it has a lovely, meandering melancholy sound. stuff smith is good!

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:36 (two years ago) link

This is a great thread, I'll be here for the ride.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:37 (two years ago) link

(also ty for spotify playlist km!)

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:37 (two years ago) link

no prob! i just hope no one skips ahead of the thread and thinks that the next songs on the playlist represent the correct order! i'm just kinda searching for songs that I think will be upcoming and adding them in the generally correct area of the playlist, but as the thread progresses I'll keep adjusting things to match it.

the solo church recording from 1948 youtube posted above is really good, too. in the midst of these more traditional sessions with other musicians, it shows that he was already interested in going on cosmic voyages in his own work

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:44 (two years ago) link

more youtube links:

Andy Tibbs Dozier Boys with Sax Malllard's Combo + Sun Ra on piano, recorded nov 1948, released dec 1948: In a Traveling Mood (just the first song)
Andy Tibbs & the Dozier Boys + Sun Ra on piano, recorded nov 1948, released jan 1949: In Every Man's Life

Dozier Boys with Eugene Wright + Sun Ra on piano and arrangements, recorded dec 1948, released Sept 1949: Music Goes Round and Round
(couldn't find "Pork n Beans" or "Dawn Mist", from the same session)

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 21:04 (two years ago) link

after some searching, i found the 6 tracks that Sun Ra/ Blount played on The Hawk Returns (search for "Sun31" here on the amazingly exhaustive Chicago Years link posted above: . They were included on the Confessin': The Astounding Coleman Hawkins comp, which is on Spotify.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 21:46 (two years ago) link

Sun Ra studies should be a standard department at universities

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 21:47 (two years ago) link

Not to be too much of a party pooper, but is the idea of the thread to listen to all the stuff that's been posted so far and then discuss at some point? Or are we going to go song by song like the Billy Joel thread?

Moodles, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 21:56 (two years ago) link

(looking forward to 1965 -- "cosmic chaos" is my jam)

reggie (qualmsley), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 22:15 (two years ago) link

xpost
not sure! personally i'd rather go release by release since there are around 125 LPs to go through, not even counting other releases.

Karl Malone, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 22:16 (two years ago) link

I think the version of "Outer Spaceways Incorporated" on Pictures of Infinity was my first exposure to that song, still probably my favorite. Great set.

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 3 March 2020 16:02 (one month ago) link

1966 - The Ankh And The Ark - Sun Ra and Henry Dumas in conversation

The last thing we have from this year. Recorded at Slug’s Saloom in 1966, a 24-minute conversation between the poet/writer Dumas and Sun Ra. Meandering but fascinating. And what the heck is that background music?

Added to Spotify, available on Bandcamp as well along with detailed and fascinating liner notes:

https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-ankh-and-the-ark

sleeve, Wednesday, 4 March 2020 14:51 (one month ago) link

1967 - Atlantis (side 2)

https://img.discogs.com/l8JmmgMEjOqQqNFV52zoZ8WdDh0=/fit-in/500x500/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1026849-1304464717.jpeg.jpg

Another stunner, but this LP is the first of (I assume) several that will be split up since different tracks were recorded at different times. Side 1 isn’t until September of 1968, side 2 (added to the playlist) was recorded at the Olatunji Center of African Culture, 125th Street, New York, August 4, 1967.

In terms of what was happening in Sun Ra world“It took almost seven years for the Village Voice to notice Sun Ra, but in 1967 jazz critic Michael Zwerin dropped into Slug’s to hear his band. […] nothing he had ever heard prepared him for what he saw that night.” (Szwed, followed by a lengthy description of the Arkestra in full freak flower).

Szwed quoting Zwerin’s review: “Sun Ra’s music is pagan, religious, simple, complex, and almost everything else at the same time. There is no pigeon-hole for it. It is ugly and beautiful and terribly interesting. It’s new music, yet I’ve been hearing it for years.”

Earlier in April, the Ihnfinity Inc. corporation was founded by Ra, Alton Abraham, and others as some kind of umbrella organization which I’m still not totally clear on.

The LP itself was released in 1969 on Saturn, and later part of the Evidence CD series. The new Bandcamp version corrects some Side 1 issues (to be covered later) and is remastered. Bandcamp sez:

“Atlantis" is an overpowering—and at times frightful—assault which refuses to coalesce into any conventional structure, and augurs Sun Ra's increasingly adventurous performances in the 1970s. The keyboards used were a Clavioline and a Gibson Kalamazoo Organ (which Ra re-christened the "Solar Sound Organ"). During this performance, according to biographer John Szwed, "Sun Ra rolled his hands on the keys, pressing his forearm along the keyboard, played with his hands upside-down, slashing and beating the keyboard, spinning around and around, his hands windmilling at the keys—a virtual sonic representation of the flooding of Atlantis." It is an uncompromising work by an artist unafraid to challenge his audience. The original 45-minute performance was projected for a full album, running across two sides. However, it was edited to fit onto one side of an LP, and is here presented in its commercially released form. A release of the complete recording is in our project queue.

45 minutes?!?!?

Sun Ra Sundays says:

The side-long title track was recorded live at the Olatunji Center of African Culture sometime after May, 1967 and is essentially one long Ra solo on the other new keyboard in his arsenal: a Gibson Kalamazoo organ. The Kalamazoo was a lower-priced copy of the Farfisa portable organ made famous by rock musicians of the time (think “96 Tears”). Ra attacks the instrument with unrelenting, two-fisted zeal, summoning forth a tsunami of sound that duly evokes the mythical flooding of Atlantis. It is a hair-raisingly terrifying performance and as menacingly psychedelic as any music of the period. After about fifteen assaultive minutes, an eerie calm sets in and the Arkestra plays an aching, moaning, richly voiced ensemble passage while Ra’s screeching organ threatens to overwhelm. The tension continues to mount until it is almost unbearable – then suddenly Ra cues the space chant: “Sun Ra and his band from outer space have entertained you here…” Holy moly! As Michael Shore puts it in his liner notes on the Evidence CD, “Atlantis” is “frightening, fascinating, enthralling, and finally overpowering music…(It) is one of the most monumental achievements of an artist who was always working in super-colossal terms.”

sleeve, Thursday, 5 March 2020 14:44 (one month ago) link

1967 loose ends: “The Invisible Shield” and “The Bridge/Rocket #9” 7” and the unavailable “Cosmo Dance”

https://img.discogs.com/lLE1JtHdu5SkWohiP7UuTIKIkAY=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-6713009-1501167532-1631.jpeg.jpg

We touched on “The Invisible Shield” previously in this thread:

man the title track is definitely from later, there were no synths like that in the early 60s

― Οὖτις, Friday, February 7, 2020 9:34 AM (three weeks ago)

It’s interesting hearing this in the proper context as it is an appropriate companion piece to Atlantis.

Also recorded this year (there are relatively few recordings available for 1967 compared to most other years) was a rare 45 on Saturn, not released until 1982 (!!!).

“Cosmo Dance”, listed for this year in the Szwed discography and also not released until many years later (1979) on a rare late-period Saturn pressing, was also *probably* recorded this year. The record it appears on, “Song Of The Stargazers”, is otherwise made up of live 70s tracks and has yet to be reissued. The Sun Ra Sundays writeup sounds tasty - unfortunately I couldn’t find the track on Youtube.

Song of the Stargazers (Saturn 487 or sometimes 6161) was released in 1979 and is mostly a hodgepodge of various live recordings from the nineteen-seventies. But one track was obviously recorded much earlier, probably in 1967 or 1968, according to Prof. Campbell. Performed in a large, reverberant space in front of a sizable and enthusiastic audience, “Cosmo Dance” is an interesting quasi-modal composition featuring some evocative flute and oboe. Clacking wooden sticks set up a simple, repetitious rhythm with Boykins's bass and Pat Patrick’s “space lute” plucking out a droning three-note groove. Low horns and bowed bass enter with convulsively heaving whole-note fourths while flute and oboe and bass clarinet dance a medieval round. Flute and then oboe embark on expansive, Middle-Eastern sounding solos over the clacking sticks and throbbing bass/space lute, the audience bursting into spirited applause after each. Finally, the low horn/bowed bass whole-note fourths return, repeating several times before ending to more justifiably hearty ovation. Ra himself is not heard playing on this track, but the murky sound quality makes it hard to clearly make out who is doing what. Campbell says Marshall Allen is playing both flute and oboe, but that is impossible since both instruments are heard simultaneously during the ensemble section. So, is it Danny Davis on flute? It certainly sounds like him. There is also some talking barely audible throughout – is that Sun Ra lecturing the crowd or just random audience noise? In any event, this is a beautiful, prototypical Sun Ra composition of the period, perfectly realized by his Arkestra.

In other 1967 news:

“The Arkestra meanwhile had picked up a part-time manager, Lem Roebuck, who had gotten them concerts in the parks, sometimes with as many as thirty musicians, through Simon Bly, a man who staged musical events […] Roebuck had seen a singer and dancer in Bly’s series of outdoor musicals who, he told Sun Ra, would broaden his appeal. So Roebuck talked June Tyson into coming to a rehearsal […] She helped liberate Sun Ra from the keyboards, and made it easier for him to come to the front of the band[…]”

I’m not gonna quote TOO much more of the Szwed book at this point but suffice to say that June Tyson and her fellow singer/dancer Verta Mae Grosvenor (hired right after June was) brought a whole new dimension to things:

“June Tyson and I integrated the band,” Grosvenor said, “and we had to develop roles which fit the Arkestra. So we decided to be space goddesses.”

sleeve, Friday, 6 March 2020 14:53 (one month ago) link

1967-68 - Solar Myth Approach (part 2) and A Black Mass

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a2481139000_10.jpg

https://img.discogs.com/e8649Rre1edu7DqtzQY83plptKM=/fit-in/450x451/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1961188-1304249721.jpeg.jpg

Most of the Solar Myth Approach tracks are believed to have been recorded in this time frame, and have been added to the Spotify playlist (a few others come later, in 1969 and 1970, you can peek ahead at the detailed Bandcamp notes if you want).

https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-solar-myth-approach-vol-1

We also have a recording of a play that Szwed says was recorded in 1966 with Amiri Baraka, but was released on LP in 1968. I’m not sure of the exact details, info is sketchy.

“A Black Mass” was reissued once on CD but isn’t officially available at the moment. However, it is on Youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=oi98wfZyqpU&feature=emb_logo

sleeve, Monday, 9 March 2020 13:37 (four weeks ago) link

ok, i dug up my copy of "cosmo dance" from the record and it is indeed a very fine thing... here's a quick little temporary sendspace of it:

https://www.sendspace.com/file/mmu55h

Kate (rushomancy), Monday, 9 March 2020 13:57 (four weeks ago) link

thanks!!

sleeve, Tuesday, 10 March 2020 02:33 (four weeks ago) link

1968 (or earlier) - Continuation (Volumes 1 and 2)

https://img.discogs.com/PctFBVZ2q_DATDNSdWl_yyp0jWI=/fit-in/350x342/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-4653215-1371158552-2343.jpeg.jpg

Continuation (Vol. 1) was originally released as a rare LP on Saturn in 1970, and the origins of the tracks have been debated ever since. As usual, Bandcamp has the definitive version, including a 2nd disc of sessions originally released in rough form on the Corbett Vs. Dempsey label as part of a reissue.

The first track (ya gotta love the title “Biosphere Blues”) is a lovely stroll through older stylings, muted trumpets suggesting Louis Armstrong and older motifs, broken up by a more modern rambunctious sax. I don’t think many of these became Sun Ra “standards” so it’s interesting to hear these tracks for the first time (I’m ashamed to admit that I do have a Scorpio reissue of Vol. 1 on LP, but haven’t actually listened to it).

By the next track, “Intergalactic Research”, we are in full freak mode and the agonized groans and zombie shuffle tempo almost reminds me of the Viennese Aktionists. Weird shit. Percussion heavy, again, that’s one of the things I’m coming to appreciate the most as I work through the catalog this way, re-listening or first-listening as appropriate. Even his keyboard playing has a rhythmic surety to it.

Then we have a different version of “Earth Primitive Earth” (covered upthread under the weird Space Probe B-side Art Yard release) and a Bandcamp exclusive complete version of the track “New Planet”.

The B-side is all one track, as per Bandcamp:
The LP side-length "Continuation to Jupiter Festival" was reportedly recorded live at a club called The East, in Brooklyn, but there's no indication of an audience, including during quiet passages and after exciting solos; the constrained ambience of the track indicates a studio setting. Danny Ray Thompson, as reported by Campbell-Trent, "has a recollection ('not 100 percent') of performing this piece at The East." Indeed it could have been performed—but perhaps not recorded—there. Robert Barry is credited as drummer, but the aggressive stickwork (as Campbell and Trent note) sounds like Clifford Jarvis.

Sun Ra Sundays thinks this track is from 1969, but who knows. Also note: “The presence of Tommy Hunter and his echo-echo-echo machine on “Earth Primitive Earth” and “New Planet” makes me think these tracks were recorded prior to 1968. In fact, the overall ambience (and massively increased hiss) sounds like some of the Choreographer’s Workshop recordings (but this might just be wishful thinking).”

https://nuvoid.blogspot.com/search?q=continuation

(added to Spotify)

Bandcamp on Vol. 1:
Several authorities believe studio tracks 1 thru 4 were recorded in 1968, but "Biosphere Blues" sounds as if it were recorded in the early 1960s at the Choreographer's Workshop. That location (and the year 1963) was cited on a limited-pressing Corbett vs. Dempsey CD of the album, linking it with early 1960s recordings which appeared on Secrets of the Sun and Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow. In 2014, Campbell-Trent offered a reconsideration: "normally dated 1968-69, but on stylistic grounds an earlier date is likely for these tracks."

The personnel listed below contains a slew of maybes. Based on the knowns and probables, as well as the sounds and instrumentation, Continuation closely reflects Sun Ra's album Atlantis, which was recorded in September 1968. In fact the Gibson Kalamazoo ("space") organ and the Hohner clavinet on "Intergalactic Research" are also heard on Atlantis, and Sun Ra did not use either in the early 1960s (the Hohner wasn't introduced until 1964).

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0507721803_10.jpg

Bandcamp on Vol. 2:
Continuation 2 would surprise Sun Ra, because he never released any such album. Around 1970 he did release Continuation, a limited-pressing LP of recordings whose origins have confounded experts. The Robert Campbell-Christopher Trent discographic atlas, The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (2nd edition, pub. 2000), provides some guidance on personnel, but the citations contain many question marks. Several authorities believe these sessions date from 1968 or '69, yet they echo recordings made in the early 1960s at the Choreographer's Workshop. That location (and the year 1963) was cited on a limited-pressing Corbett vs. Dempsey 2CD set of Continuation, linking it with early '60s recordings on Secrets of the Sun and Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow. In 2014, Campbell-Trent offered a reconsideration: "normally dated 1968-69, but on stylistic grounds an earlier date is likely for these tracks."

Sun Ra Archives Executive Director Michael D. Anderson, who transferred these tracks from undated master tapes, insists they originate from '63 and were recorded at CW. That venue was a longtime Arkestra rehearsal space and ad hoc recording studio, a residency that began shortly after their 1961 arrival in NYC following the formative Chicago years.

The recordings on Continuation Vol. 2 (all in full stereo) feature small ensembles of between six and eight players, typical of CW recordings from the early '60s. At the time, Sun Ra was working largely with musicians who had come east with him, along with a handful of New York recruits. One of the few clues that argues against CW is the absence of the harsh warehouse acoustics characteristic of the Workshop basement. These recordings have a warmer studio feel, though they still reflect a low-rent setting.

So, I’m convinced. It seems that a lot of these tracks (especially the Vol. 2 ones) should have come earlier in the playlist, in the CW era, but I’ll leave them here. The record starts out normal with “Blue York” (I love it), and then gets seriously out on the next two tracks, swerving back into sedate cocktail hour with “Ihnfinity”, then percussive cosmic weirdness for a couple of tracks, then an early version of “Next Stop Mars”.

Please chime in if you have any thoughts on this music. I’m gonna start assuming that everyone here has read John Swzed’s “Space Is The Place” and go from there.

sleeve, Tuesday, 10 March 2020 14:03 (four weeks ago) link

never even heard of these before!

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 10 March 2020 15:01 (four weeks ago) link

1968 - Atlantis (side 1) and the “Blues On Planet Mars” 7”

https://img.discogs.com/ZVvsIveUpxh2Sova3WjmoKC6EsY=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-519911-1326849162.jpeg.jpg

https://img.discogs.com/8HwyCAGj8yiUHtveCzWRKNivH18=/fit-in/600x594/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-14438349-1574863079-4262.jpeg.jpg

Side 1 of Atlantis and the two tracks on this single were all apparently recorded in September 1968. The LP (including side 2 discussed earlier) was released on Saturn in 1969. Then it was reissued in 1973 as part of the ill-fated Impulse program (with a truncated “Part 2” of the track “Yucatan” called “Yucatan II” substituted for the original Part 1), later reissued in original form as part of the Evidence series. The single itself is extremely rare, although a 1-sided version with just the A-side is more common (and released much later).

A lot of this is percussion-centered, percussion-only, or electric keyboard & percussion duets. Good stuff. The definitive Bandcamp version includes both parts of “Yucatan”:

https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/album/atlantis

sleeve, Friday, 13 March 2020 14:00 (three weeks ago) link

Could there be a better time than "strictly enforced social distancing" to bone up on my Sun Ra?!?! Whenever we go back to classes, I need to start my unit on jazz so heeeeeeyo -- thanks for the monumental effort of this thread!

I have read parts of Space is the Place (and have it) and know this-and-that about Sun Ra, but haven't ever focused super intently on his output. I saw the Arkestra on NYE a few years ago.

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Friday, 13 March 2020 14:46 (three weeks ago) link

Hi LL! Nice to see you in here, please enjoy the amazing tunes!

sleeve, Friday, 13 March 2020 15:22 (three weeks ago) link

Atlantis is epic but not one of my favorites tbh

Οὖτις, Friday, 13 March 2020 15:27 (three weeks ago) link

apparently Danny Ray Thompson just passed :( RIP

Οὖτις, Friday, 13 March 2020 17:23 (three weeks ago) link

Saw that. He had also played in DC funk/ proto-go-go band Black Heat

curmudgeon, Friday, 13 March 2020 18:29 (three weeks ago) link

1968 - loose ends

STOP THE PRESSES! We have something to add in that we missed, released on vinyl by the US label Roaratorio. A set from May 1965 (!!):

https://www.discogs.com/Sun-Ra-His-Astro-Infinity-Arkestra-Other-Strange-Worlds/release/5457402

Not on Spotify, but the album is on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxxnXYC8iLw

There’s also track from Spaceways with June Tyson, mentioned earlier, recorded around ’68 that fits in here.

And then we have the first five tracks from Roaratorio’s album “Sun Embassy”:

https://www.discogs.com/Sun-Ra-And-His-Astro-Ihnfinity-Arkestra-Sun-Embassy/release/11599231

https://img.discogs.com/oJUV2ygx7W6sZr_DS1uzrF46LqQ=/fit-in/600x598/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-11599231-1519179330-2201.jpeg.jpg

These were recorded at various times in 1968, and have been added to the Spotify playlist. The last two will come in ’69.

This closes out 1968. As mentioned, Danny Thompson just died, at this point in the Szwed book it is noted that he had become the Arkestra’s de facto manager around this time.

sleeve, Monday, 16 March 2020 13:35 (three weeks ago) link

Never even heard of these

Οὖτις, Monday, 16 March 2020 15:14 (three weeks ago) link

they're new! Roaratorio released four albums in the last 5-6 years, all previously unreleased stuff.

sleeve, Monday, 16 March 2020 15:16 (three weeks ago) link

so hard to catch up with this stuff! didn't get far with "other strange worlds", just sounded like a "strange strings" variation to me. i'm enjoying "cosmic strut", sounds sort of a ra-ified take on the "sanford and son" theme!

Kate (rushomancy), Monday, 16 March 2020 21:02 (three weeks ago) link

1969 - My Brother The Wind (Vol. 1)

https://img.discogs.com/CmiorZWim85ZPqdf1rg0bq1S-8I=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-3351406-1326923289.jpeg.jpg

Blasting off to outer space on the Moog rocket, these tracks were all recorded on the new instrument in 1969, and released as an LP on Saturn in 1970. It was repressed a couple of times in the 70s, then ignored for almost 30 years, then there were two Scorpio LP pressings in the 00s, and finally a definitive 2017 Bandcamp version (added to Spotify).

From the Bandcamp page:

The original My Brother the Wind LP on Saturn (catalog 521) featured four tracks, properly sequenced here on as tracks 1–4. For this expanded release, tracks 5–7 feature three complete session takes of "The Perfect Man." The third and final complete take was issued in 1974 on Side B of Saturn 45 rpm single ES 537, reissued in 1983 on Saturn 9/7474, and included on the Evidence 2-CD set The Singles in September 1996. The alternate takes have not been previously issued.

Track 8 features the monumental "Space Probe," a solo Moog work recorded around the same time—and possibly performed on a Minimoog. This track was originally released in 1974 on the Saturn LP Space Probe, which appeared in a number of hybrid configurations during the 1970s. On at least one iteration, taped to the generic back cover was a typewritten card which claimed "Space Probe," described as a "moog (sic) solo," had been "recorded in Chicago, 1960's"—a fanciful claim at best.

The Sun Ra Sundays writeup is here:

https://nuvoid.blogspot.com/2009/08/sun-ra-sunday_16.html

This one is, uh… not really my thing, although it sure is adventurous.

I forgot one thing from 1968 - at the end of the year, the Arkestra moved to Philadelphia, where they would remain (more or less) for the rest of Sun Ra’s life.

sleeve, Tuesday, 17 March 2020 13:56 (three weeks ago) link

1969 - Solar Myth Approach (two* tracks), Sun Embassy, The Intergalactic Thing
* - see below

https://img.discogs.com/r06mzyv_SlrnmET2a51r2OZBkl4=/fit-in/600x592/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-8493754-1462720148-3302.jpeg.jpg

Welcome back, my distanced friends. The perfect antidote for boredom and isolation, more Sun Ra!

I fixed the end of the playlist, some of the Solar Myth Approach and Sun Embassy tracks got out of order. Regarding the Solar Myth Approach tracks, please allow me this long Bandcamp excerpt:

The historical context of two other tracks merit reevaluation. The solo Moog synthesizer tracks "Seen III, Took 4" (Vol. 1) and "Scene 1, Take 1" (Vol. 2) are listed in The Earthly Recordings as being performed on a Minimoog. Ra acquired a Mini prototype in 1970—the year the instrument was developed—from Bob Moog himself and took it on tour. The prior year Ra had visited Gershon Kingsley's New York studio and recorded on Kingsley's modular Moog; those recordings were issued on Saturn in 1970 as the album My Brother the Wind. We asked Brian Kehew, a Moog historian (who wrote liner notes for the 2017 deluxe reissue of My Brother the Wind), to review the two Solar-Myth tracks and identify which instrument Ra played. His reply: "Sure sounds UN-like a Minimoog and VERY like the modular system. Ra plays a wider range on the keyboard than you could on a Minimoog. It's the longer keyboard of the modular system." As it turns out, on both volumes of Solar-Myth, Ra credits himself with playing "Moog synthesizer" — not the Mini. So in this one instance, it seems Ra was on the level.

But that's not all. According to Anderson, "Scene 1, Take 1" was recorded at the tape speed of 3-3/4ips, but for the original BYG LP it was—for reasons unknown—played back at 7-1/2ips. Hence, that track has always been heard at double speed. If you listen closely, at two seconds in there's a momentary voice which is clearly sped-up. The 3-3/4ips tape is too fragile for Anderson to run, but Kehew was able to convert the digital file to true speed. On this version, at four seconds in, you can hear the voice of Sun Ra at normal pitch. It's conceivable that Ra made the creative decision to speed up the piece for the album—although we cannot rule out engineer error. At any rate, here the original LP version remains as track #3 in the Vol. 2 sequence, and the true-speed version, which reflects what Ra's hands actually played, has been included on this remastered digital edition of Vol. 2 as a bonus track. (The way BMG acquired the tapes (covered previously)…) increases the likelihood of "engineer error" causing the incorrect speed of "Scene 1, Take 1," as well as explaining the incongruous stylistic mix of these two albums.

So far, aside from the newly-unearthed Sun Embassy tracks, all we’ve heard so far this year is Moog solos. The “slower” i.e. correct-speed version of “Scene 1 Take 1” is kind of a revelation, I think I prefer it to “Space Probe.”

The other major revelation of this sparsely-documented year isn’t available online at all that I could find, another Roaratorio vinyl-only release (a double LP) of previously-unreleased studio sessions from Philly called The Intergalactic Thing.

https://www.discogs.com/Sun-Ra-His-Astro-Ihnfinity-Arkestra-The-Intergalactic-Thing/release/8493754

This seems like the first truly major thing we’ve encountered that isn’t available for listening! I wanna hear it! The 1969 Sun Embassy tracks are quite good, particularly the funky keyboard workout on “Cosmic Strut.”

Notably, although The Intergalactic Thing says “Recorded August - November 1969, Sun Studios, Philadelphia, PA,” June Tyson is not credited. That will change very soon.

sleeve, Thursday, 19 March 2020 14:00 (two weeks ago) link

i gotta say i'm really enjoying "the intergalactic thing", absolutely my jam. there's another version of "saturn moon" which is a b-side of his i love, not to be confused with "moon over saturn" which is a different piece. this is a recording of the arkestra at their best, worth seeking out, thank you for bringing it to wider attention!

Kate (rushomancy), Thursday, 19 March 2020 19:09 (two weeks ago) link

wait where did you find it? link?

sleeve, Thursday, 19 March 2020 19:11 (two weeks ago) link

oh nm you probably went to slsk or something

sleeve, Thursday, 19 March 2020 19:12 (two weeks ago) link

slsk it was!

Kate (rushomancy), Thursday, 19 March 2020 20:12 (two weeks ago) link

Hi folks, taking a brief break today but I'll be back tomorrow to start the 70s!

sleeve, Monday, 23 March 2020 17:11 (two weeks ago) link

i have so much catching up to do

Karl Malone, Monday, 23 March 2020 17:36 (two weeks ago) link

GET ON IT, KARL

I expect a written paragraph on each record you've missed so far, 4 sentences minimum, due Wednesday

sleeve, Monday, 23 March 2020 17:37 (two weeks ago) link

i will respond experimentally and intuitively, out of respect to the music

Karl Malone, Monday, 23 March 2020 18:16 (two weeks ago) link

<3

sleeve, Monday, 23 March 2020 18:17 (two weeks ago) link

Atlantis is the only Sun Ra I’ve ever heard, but it’s ace. A full-length 40-minute version of side two would be amazing.

Mr. Snrub, Monday, 23 March 2020 18:55 (two weeks ago) link

xxxp i’m actually planning on something similar, to process my responses but i’ll probably post it here, soon as i get a computer so i can do some typing.

gonna make ya proud sleeve. real proud.

budo jeru, Monday, 23 March 2020 19:01 (two weeks ago) link

awww <3

sleeve, Monday, 23 March 2020 19:09 (two weeks ago) link

oh hey I found a Youtube link for the live 1966 recordings released as "Spaceways" a.k.a. "Outerspaceways Inc." a.k.a. "A Tonal View Of Times Tomorrow Vol. 3", covered upthread:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_nMNBqonrI

sleeve, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 02:02 (two weeks ago) link

1970 - My Brother The Wind Vol. 2 plus “Journey To Saturn” 7”

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a0949597874_10.jpg

https://img.discogs.com/-tsLZXOgxjIbC3crHzM1yCHKZzM=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-3916768-1501167422-5845.jpeg.jpg

Enter June Tyson, her first appearance on record! Added to the Spotify playlist. Recorded in 1969 (the Moog side) and 1970 (the A-side), released as an LP on Saturn in 1971. A few Scorpio pressings, I assume from the 2000s, but other than that there was no reissue of this at all until the Bandcamp version in 2014.

The Bandcamp/Spotify version is remastered, but no extra goodies. One side of genius, one side of full blast Moog madness. As per their writeup:

The ensemble pieces (1-6) were recorded at Variety Studios, probably in early 1970. This is a tight band, and with the exception of "Contrast," these tracks feature something not found on many studio recordings by Ra in the 1960s—a groove, one closer to roadhouse R&B than jazz. There's a bit of Memphis blues, a touch of Booker T & the MGs, albeit with Sun Ra's usual disregard for Top 40 niceties. The horns contribute some characteristically spirited solos.

However, nothing foreshadowed what awaited the listener who flipped the platter.

As per the Sun Ra Sundays writeup:

The remainder of the album is taken up with five brief synthesizer experiments, Ra having purchased a brand new Minimoog of his own. “The Wind Speaks” explores white noise and fluttering filter effects while “Sun Thoughts” focuses on sour intervals and swooping, sea-sick portamentos. “Journey to the Stars” uses the ADSR envelope filter to create wah-wah-ing attacks and swelling sustained notes while “World of Myth ‘I’” consists of knob-turning pitch-shifting. Finally, “The Design – Cosmos II” conjures up some resonant, bell-tone sounds, with increasingly busy atonal melodies scattered over a repeating bass note. While these tracks may sound a bit tentative, the Minimoog would become a fixture of Ra’s keyboard arsenal in the nineteen-seventies and most concerts would feature a lengthy synthesizer solo full of apocalyptic bombast. Unfortunately, My Brother the Wind, Vol. II comes across as kind of schizophrenic: some of this material is the most toe-tappingly accessible in all of the discography, but the Moog experiments are tough-going for even the most committed fan. Even so, this is an essential album and a necessary companion to Vol. I.

And a side note from the same blog entry:

…another track found on Out There A Minute (Blast First CD) which was likely recorded at this session (or shortly thereafter). Entitled, “Jazz and Romantic Sounds,” it fits right in, with Ra’s bluesy, juke-joint organ, Marshall Allen’s impassioned solo and Patrick interjecting a honking riff here and there.

The link for that CD is upthread if u want to listen.

Lastly, we have the 7” single “Journey To Saturn”/“Enlightenment”, released in 1973 but probably recorded around this time.

1970 is gonna be a busy year, I count around ten entries from it!

sleeve, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 14:08 (two weeks ago) link

weirdly, the first "My Brother The Wind" has vanished from Spotify since I added it last week!

sleeve, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 18:15 (two weeks ago) link

you can still listen through the Bandcamp link above

sleeve, Tuesday, 24 March 2020 18:18 (two weeks ago) link

1970 - The Night Of The Purple Moon

https://img.discogs.com/zHP6di0LYH4isDV2Ob2vc_08Rak=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-6759048-1426146254-2182.jpeg.jpg

Another great one, well worth your time, the Sun Ra Sundays blog gets it:

In mid-1970, Sun Ra reentered Variety Recording Studio, this time with a bare-bone Arkestra and yet another new electronic keyboard in tow, the RMI Rocksichord. In his perceptive liner notes to this CD, John Corbett describes the sound of the Rocksichord as an “unforgettable nasal quack,” and that’s a pretty accurate description of this primitive, transistorized electric piano. In another person’s hands, this would sound cheesy and (now) hopelessly out of date. But Ra builds solid, evocative compositions around the instrument and it is, inexplicably, just exactly perfect. Unfortunately, the original tapes were unsalvageable, so this reissue had to be sourced from a clean LP. There’s plenty of surface noise present, so at least we can be thankful the producers didn’t get carried away with the noise reduction and de-clicking, which can often just make things worse. Although Impulse! was prepared to reissue this album in late-seventies, it has remained an ultra-rare artifact until Atavistic released this CD in 2007. Despite the less-than-perfect sound-quality, The Night of the Purple Moon is one of the great Sun Ra albums – and one of my favorite albums of all time.

Contrary to the decade-old notes above, the 2014 Bandcamp version says they salvaged and remastered the tapes, and includes some alternate tracks and *cough* a 1975 version of one track. An intimate, fun, beautiful record.

This LP was repressed three times in the 70s, unlike many of the Saturn LPs we’ve covered so far. And it’s also unusual in being originally released right around the time it was actually recorded, in mid-1970.

sleeve, Thursday, 26 March 2020 14:18 (one week ago) link

a fave of mine, i gave it a relisten lately to pick out my favorite tracks (one of my challenges with ra is to listen critically without being overwhelmed by volume). in this case my picks were "the all of everything" and "narrative". (in fairness to the '75 version, isn't that just a vocal overdub on the '70 recording?)

Kate (rushomancy), Thursday, 26 March 2020 14:44 (one week ago) link

haha I believe you are correct, good point

sleeve, Thursday, 26 March 2020 14:45 (one week ago) link

1970 - Nuits de la Fondation Maeght Vols 1 & 2, etc.

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a1099621563_16.jpg

https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a3462538705_10.jpg

Starting in October 1970, the Arkestra embarked on their first European tour. But before that, in August, they played a few nights in France to test the waters. As per Bandcamp: “Ra's Fondation Maeght dates were not part of a tour. The Arkestra’s first European tour began on October 9, 1970, at Les Halles, in Paris. The Maeght gigs qualify as exploratory visits. Despite much controversy (see below), they were successful and led to the increased use of Ra's Earthly passport over the next two decades—to Europe and beyond. “

Sun Ra Sundays helpfully excerpts a relevant Szwed passage regarding said passport:

When they filled out the forms at the passport office in New York City, the clerk at the desk said to Sun Ra, “Sir, you’re going to have to give us better information that this. We need your parents’ names, your birth date…” [Dancer] Verta Mae Grosvenor recalled that Sun Ra said, “‘That *is* the correct information.’ After a few minutes, the clerk went back to speak with her supervisor. The supervisor was no-nonsense, but after talking to Sun Ra she said, ‘Sir, why don’t you come back in a few hours.’ When we came back there was another person there and he knew about it, and he said, ‘We’ll just give you the passport.’ It just got so out that they just gave it to him!”

That passport gained talismanic force over the years, and musicians shook their heads when they saw it. Talvin Singh, an English tabla player, said: “His philosophy was that either you be part of the society or you don’t. And he wasn’t part of it. He created his own. I mean, I actually saw his passport and there was some weird shit on it. It had some different stuff.” (p.278)

We’re starting to get into that weird period of the 70s where some of these live recordings clearly have a lot of visual elements as well, that don’t come through in the audio. At any rate, this is a solid set and probably my favorite version of “Enlightenment.”

Szwed again:
The audience had little or no knowledge of Sun Ra’s music, since his records weren’t widely distributed in France, and when they arrived they saw the Arkestra spread out before them like elaborate décor: musicians in red tunics, seated in a forest of instruments on stage, dancers in red dresses. On a screen behind them was projected a sky full of stars, then planets, children in Harlem, Indians on hunting trips, and newsreel footage of protests; a ball of “magic fire” rose slowly up to the ceiling; saxophonists began to battle like Samurai, then came together like brothers; and in the still center of it all, Sun Ra sat behind the Moog, creating the sounds of gales, storms, and waves crashing. From the very first note, an agitated woman stood up and cried out, “What is this?” Afterwards, she came up and insisted on seeing the written music. Europeans seemed to want to know whether there was music behind what they were hearing, as if it would assure them that this was rational activity, and Sonny was always happy to show them the scores. A man once blurted out that his “five-year-old daughter could play that!” Sun Ra readily agreed: “She could play it, but could she write it?” (p.279)

These recordings were originally released on the French label Shandar in 1971, and have been reissued and bootlegged numerous times. The brand new Bandcamp “remasters” are actually needledrops, as the original tapes are “unavailable.”

https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/album/nuits-de-la-fondation-maeght-vol-1

https://sunramusic.bandcamp.com/album/nuits-de-la-fondation-maeght-vol-2

Tapes of these performances are currently unavailable. Transfers from first edition vinyl and digital restoration by Irwin Chusid

Sun Ra Sundays writeups are here for the curious:

https://nuvoid.blogspot.com/2009/11/sun-ra-sunday_29.html

https://nuvoid.blogspot.com/2009/11/sun-ra-sunday_22.html

Lastly, one stray track from The Solar Myth Approach is also from the Fondation gigs, and has also been added to the Spotify playlist.

sleeve, Wednesday, 1 April 2020 16:42 (one week ago) link

oh man, love these records, some of my favorite Ra live sets

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 1 April 2020 16:57 (one week ago) link

amazing cover photo of ra at the organ !

budo jeru, Wednesday, 1 April 2020 17:01 (one week ago) link

1970 - It’s After The End Of The World (Black Myth/Out In Space)

https://img.discogs.com/cQDi5NHVB5678QPB04AmKpd_NdM=/fit-in/600x591/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-1756220-1535382606-9068.jpeg.jpg

Moving on to the 1970 European tour proper, this was originally released as a single LP on the MPS/BASF label, with parts of the Oct. 17th and Nov. 7th shows included. It was reissued as a double CD in 1998 under the title “Black Myth/Out In Space,” including (I believe) all of both shows. This record is NOT on Bandcamp, must be a rights thing again. But, the original abridged version is on Spotify and has been added to our playlist.

The full double CD is on Youtube is you want to listen:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvoEQoVDtFk

sleeve, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 16:48 (yesterday) link

yes !!

budo jeru, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 17:11 (yesterday) link

this one is pretty rough going so far, lots of squealing

sleeve, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 17:15 (yesterday) link

idk i thinks it’s great, lots of fun too

If you are not a reality, whose myth are you?
If you are not a myth, whose reality are you?

budo jeru, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 17:52 (yesterday) link

ok yeah I take it back, was listening to "Black Myth" at the time of that post

sleeve, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 18:48 (yesterday) link

is this the first one to feature Alan Silva's insane string playing so prominently? Admittedly I have not absorbed the Maeght gigs in full yet either.

sleeve, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 19:00 (yesterday) link

the two Maeght albums were the first Ra I heard. there's still too much I haven't heard but I still end up going back to them, every listen is like the first listen -- every time you think you've adjusted to the scope of this band or their intensity, they tear themselves open a little further, and then, out of nowhere, the electronics

still the ones I recommend to people asking for a good first impression because if nothing else they give you THE FULL RANGE

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 7 April 2020 23:08 (yesterday) link


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