Search & Destroy: Sun Ra

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
Chin strokers of the universe unite. Search and destroy the cosmic weirdness of Mr.Ra.

Omar, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Search: Strange Celestial Roads: cosmic jazz-funk in a Sly Stone stylee. Jazz in Silhouette: classic '50s large-band jazz, a la Mingus or Monk. Life is Splended: Live at Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival 1973: one hell of a live electric freak-out (destroy the '72 and '74 albums from the same festival--they don't have anywhere near the spark of this one). Somewhere Else: uneven but featuring a glorious 12-minute "Love in Outer Space" that might be the best thing in his catalogue. Solo Piano: simple, eccentric, beautiful. The Magic City: half-hour title track lives up to its name; the rest is pretty great also. Sun Song: one hell of a repertory company. The Singles: because he really could do everything, albeit weirdly. Greatest Hits: because he really did have, um, "standards." The Great Lost Sun Ra Albums: getting funky a la Miles Davis--and not a la acid jazz (see the massively overrated Lanquidity--or don't). Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy/Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow: ambient music lives. When Angels Speak of Love: seat-of-the- pants improv lives.

Destroy: A Black Mass, a super-lo-fi you-are-there-with- earplugs-in document of a 1965 play by Amiri Baraka that Ra and co. improvised music to. Badly.

M. Matos, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Singles collection is probably my favourite.

nathalie, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'Nothing Is', 'Heliocentric Worlds', 'Atlantis' and 'Languidity' are also great. 'Languidity' is much more Herbie Hancock circa 'Thrust', 'Headhunters' etc, than acid jazz.

I also have the tracks 'Spring and Summer Idyll' and 'Rome at Twilight' as MP3, not sure which LPs they're from, but they're both very good too.

m jemmeson, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Along with Lee "Scratch" Perry and George Clinton, one of the great innovators of black music, at least this is what most critics say... I only own "Greatest hits - easy listening for intergalactic travel" (which is, as the title implies, a "best of", even if the term "hits" sounds a bit out of place...). It's a quite pleasant listen, even excellent at times, so maybe those critics may be right for once... He was a bit weird, just like anyone who claims to be from Saturn I guess and thus I'm quite intrigued by him... I'll definitely buy something more in the near future :-)

Simone, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


i've got to add "Solar Myth Approach, Vols 1 & 2", "Nubians of Plutonia", and the Evidence version of "Space is the Place".

mike j, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Pretty much all the good'uns have already been mentioned, but gotta give props to 'My Brother The Wind Vol II', where Ra farts abt with his newly acquired synths like a proto-Aphex Twin, and the Blast First rarities comp 'Out There a Minute', my intro to the Arkestra, which still works as a good overall samping of the man's many moods.

Destroy: never really heard a BAD Sun Ra disc, but the second vol of 'Heliocentric Worlds' is a major let-down after the first alb, which heavily features John Gilmore at his hard-blowin' best.

Andrew L, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I would say everything .....ok "heliocentric worlds' "atlantis" "space is the place" " magic city" but of course I've just heard a small portion of his infinite output .lots of planets yet to be discovered....

francesco, Thursday, 16 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i second the singles compilation recommendation, a good starting point, many of his styles on one purchase, from 50's big band through to the synth stuff and much weirdness,...

jk, Friday, 17 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

That 'Concert from the Black Forest' circa 1974 (?) with the 15- minute synth freakout, that's great. Can't remember exact CD title - it's in Hackney Library (Mare St. branch) if that helps

dave q, Friday, 17 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

fuck hackney library. they wouldn't let me join because i'm not a resident of the borough (i'm 5 mins walk outside it)

gareth, Friday, 17 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Gareth - me neither. I also cards for Camden and Islington. What you do is, bring the card you have into a library in another borough and tell them that there's stuff you need that's only found in THEIR branch, or something. (Actually, I didn't even need to give a reason.) Just fill in a form and you get a card on the same day.

Only drawback is that having 3 library cards and living in a pigsty, I usually have about 35 CDs out at any one time, they get mixed up and I right now I have £60 in fines to pay off

dave q, Friday, 17 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yes i suffer from this problem, with camden, islington and barnet cards. and at parents house somewhere i have bradford, calderdale, leeds and kirklees cards!

gareth, Friday, 17 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

he's about the only jazz guy i can stand in large doses. if for nothing else i would remember him for _cosmic tones_ (chamber noise whose only real contemporary is the third ear band's _alchemy_), _atlantis_ (clavinets falling down the stairs), _concert for the comet kouhoutek_ (anything dedicated to kouhoutek rules, see also yahowa 13, best track here though is "journey through the outer darkness" which sounds like a saxophone is being chewed to pieces as it's played), _strange strings_ (more unearthed ur-drone/noise/improv for eastern string instruments). honorable mention for backing up yochannon on "message to the earthman," one of the craziest thing i've ever heard. "shut the door! waaaaghhhh!!!"

your null fame, Friday, 17 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

>he's about the only jazz guy i can stand in large doses.

Destroy: jazz recommendations from soul-less people.

matthew m., Sunday, 19 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

In that case ;)I'll just add one S and one D.

Search: Atlantis. Title track finally fulfills fantasies I had of what Sun Ra would sound like: alien, cold, forbidding, etc. The rest of the album is pretty good too.

Destroy. Pictures of Infinity. Not really bad, but also not spectacular live album. Classic wrong entry album that makes you go "is this what all the fuss is about?"

Omar, Sunday, 19 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The album Dave Q's talking about, is that "Nuits de la Fondation Maeght" (I prob'ly spelt that wrong)? yeah & 1 of my favs that I didn't notice anyone mentioning here is "Astro Black" (early '70s, Sirone on bass)...Hey Omar "Pics of Infinity" is GOOD.

duane, Sunday, 19 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Destroy: jazz recommendations from soul-less people.

feh. i guess it would be better if i walked around blathering the names of dead black guys like i knew them personally and pretending to enjoy the endless wank. got yer soul right HERE.

your null fame, Tuesday, 21 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Destroy: jazz recommendations from soul-less people.

in that case i had better not mention that i quite like Shamek Farrah

gareth, Tuesday, 21 August 2001 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...
Today is Sun Ra's Arrival Day. If you came from nowhere here, why can't you go somewhere there?

Additional recommendations: Monorails and Satellites, Sun Ra playing solo piano. Like many Sun Ra recordings, this took a few listens (in this case separated over a number of years) before I came to appreciate it.

Other Planes of There. I don't know why this seems to be considered less accessible than Atlantis or the Magic City, both of which are too chaotic-sounding for me (at least in their title tracks). This starts off a bit more spare than the title tracks from those albums. There are some difficult moments, but overall I like it. The recording quality on the title track is perhaps "cruder" than that on "Heliocentric Worlds vol.I:," but I find it warmer, though I can't explain how such lonely and alienated sounding music can also be warm. At times I think I hear echoes of Varese (sp?). It includes "Pleasure" which always blows my mind. The last rack, which maintains more or less a waltz rhythm throughout is probably my least favorite on the album, but it's pretty good.

Angels and Demons at Play/The Nubians of Plutonia is a pretty accessible and enjoyable CD. (Did I just say anything there? Probably not.) Fate in a Pleasant Mood/When Sun Comes Out is also good. The first album is relatively straight, while the second one gets into more "uncompromising sonic exploration" sort of territory. The rediscovered bonus track of Marshall Allen playing clarinet is a treat. It sounds like he is work on a theme very close to one that appears on one or more other tracks (elsewhere), possibly "Next Stop Mars."

Destroy? I'm reluctant to say destroy anything, since Sun Ra albums I didn't like have often grown on me. I am less keen on his live albums in general than a lot of Sun Ra fans seem to be, though I love seeing the Arkestra live.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 22 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Janus is nice too, though I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point. Island in the Sun is an airy, accessible piece. The Invisible Shield and Janus sort of run together. The beginning is pretty unrelenting, but it moves into a sound similar to "Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy," but more organic, with Art Jenkins on wordless vocals, trying to connect with his ancient African roots. There's a really nice live version of Velvet recorded some time late in the 60's. Joy is pretty challenging at times, but on a recent listen I realized that Sun Ra's piano playing was far more structured on this piece than I had realized before, so I think there's more there than what I first heard.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 22 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The rediscovered bonus track of Marshall Allen playing clarinet is a treat.

Correction: John Gilmore plays clarinet on this track.

Incidentally, Marshall Allen's Arrival Day is this Saturday (the 25th). It will be celebrated at the Tritone in Philadelphia.

DeRayMi, Thursday, 23 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Search: John Szwed's fantastic biography, surely one of the best musician bio's ever.

I just found out that Szwed has a Miles Davis book coming out this year. Oh happy day!

Ben Williams, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Bought a couple of Ra records a couple of months ago.

The ideal starting point is the soundtrack to the Ra movie (can't remeber name). There's a lot of varied material there and it serves as a sort of Ra comp.

I like the group improvisations and the stuff he does with his moog (big slabs of noise: a take no prisoners approach there). Will have to get more records and the biog. Swzed is a good writer.

Julio Desouza, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

'space is the place' on impulse you mean?

Josh, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The CD was not on impulse (I can't check the record: it's on the other side of the atlantic!).

Julio Desouza, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

in the credits to the ra movie (remake: Queen of the Damned) is the name WILLIAM DHALGREN: this has always intrigued me

mark s, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Is that movie available on video, mark (anybody)?

''in the credits to the ra movie (remake: Queen of the Damned) is the name WILLIAM DHALGREN: this has always intrigued me''


Julio Desouza, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It's "Soundtrack to the film 'Space is the Place'" on Evidence. Mostly excellent stuff.

rw, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I hate to admit it but the "Space is the Place" soundtrack is one of the only Sun Ra CDs I've ever gotten rid of. I still don't consider it a good place to start. (The Greatest Hits does a pretty good job, though it doesn't really cover the full range of Sun Ra's career, just the stuff that evidence has the rights too, though that's plenty. "Out There a Minute" is a good introduction for the more adventurous.) I'd like to get a copy again. Seeing part of the movie (played before the Arkestra's 2001 New Year's show), with June Tyson singing "Outer Spaceways Incorporated" got me interested.

DeRayMi, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The soundtrack isn't a classic but it drives home the message that the arkestra covered a lot of differen things. The arkestra was an incredible experiment and that's what i got from that CD.

THESE records shop has a rack fully devoted to Ra (one of the guys who runs it absolutely worships him). That's where i got that CD from. Google it, they run a mail order service.

Julio Desouza, Friday, 24 May 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
This is not my home!
This is not my home!

DeRayMi, Thursday, 13 June 2002 00:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
I've been listening to "Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Volumes 1 & 2" recently. I got them in New York in this famous Jazz shop which is hidden halfway up an office block. The Sun Ra experts at describe these as "miserable sounding pirates" - but I've heard worse, including some official Sun Ra releases! I love the 1st Volume, I much prefer the version of "Shadow World" to the version on "Magic City" and I think "Cosmic Explorer" is the single greatest piece of electronic music I've ever heard from Mr. Ra - it is simply ferocious. I'm trying to imagine what it must have been like for the French audience to go along to another freaky jazz gig by another freaky Black guy from America and being confronted by this electronic hurricane - must have been astonishing. "Friendly Galaxy No. 2" on Volume 2 is one of my favourite Ra pieces, it doesn't sound like anything else he ever did - it's a kind of floating piece with lots of atmospheric flute (apparently there are 5 or 6 flautists playing), it somehow reminds me of music for a late 60s sci-fi film. Apparently, Ra wrote a unique arrangement of it for that evening's performance based on the auditorium they were playing in.

In a similar vein, I recently got "Black Myth/Out in Space" - "Out In Space" being another electronic maelstrom, this time lasting almost 38 minutes! Believe me, not a CD for the faint-hearted!

I have to confess however that I'm not a tremendous fan of his so- called "great" albums from the mid-60's: "Magic City", "Heliocentric Worlds", "Atlantis". I think these albums are remarkable but I don't find myself listening to them very often - they're more to be admired than loved. Certainly, if you're looking for jazz don't look at the "Heliocentric Worlds" albums - these are probably the least "jazz" jazz albums I've ever heard, closer in fact to Varese or even Boulez.

KCoyne, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Volumes 1 & 2" I've heard a lot of good reviews of this on the Saturn mailing list.

I have to confess however that I'm not a tremendous fan of his so- called "great" albums from the mid-60's: "Magic City", "Heliocentric Worlds", "Atlantis". . . . Certainly, if you're looking for jazz don't look at the "Heliocentric Worlds" albums - these are probably the least "jazz" jazz albums I've ever heard, closer in fact to Varese or even Boulez.

I don't really like those albums either. (I have only heard one of Heliocentric volumes, but I own the other volume and the other two titles mentioned.) Have you heard "Other Planes of There"? The title track covers somewhat similar material to "Heliocentric Worlds" but is much warmer and less rigid sounding. I don't mind jazz that doesn't sound much like jazz, per se, but I share your lack of enthusiasm for these albums.

DeRayMi, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Magic City" is great, and sounds much more like jazz than Boulez to me (not that it matters).

Ben Williams, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

julio: because dhalgren is a book by noted black SF writer samuel delany from the same era as space is the place, and it is never clear (at least i have never worked out) why it is called dhalgren

mark s, Tuesday, 6 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

This is a late late answer but here it is. Just been reading Ra's biog (space is the place) and of course, it isn't the only that isn't clear with Ra.

Julio Desouza, Sunday, 11 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Just finished listening to 'Nothing is...' again and its not the 'chaotic' or anything. to these ears its a very organised piece of music. There are two brief 'free for all' moments. 'Imagination' on side 1 and midway trough to the final track on side 2.

I enjoyed 'Exotic Forest'. A constant bassline but lovely 'middle eastern' blowing (cliche alert!) and rolling percussion. And whenever sun ra plays on that piano (he sounds like a classical pianist who had burnt his hands but was still able to play) the music would change direction.

Definetely need to listen more. There's much more but i need to go to sleep.

anyway, will get some more recs soon...

Julio Desouza, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Julio, I would love to convince you to try some Arabic music, for actual middle eastern sounds. I'm telling you, "Salo Ko'os" or "Ana Fe Entezarak" performed by Oum Kalthoum are challenging pieces of music that could appeal to free jazz ears. There are plenty of others, but I think these would be most likely to appeal to your ears, of the ones I've heard. Of course, I don't really know what you have or haven't heard.

Generally when I read that something sounds "middle eastern" in a published review, I find that it either sounds only very vaguely middle eastern or it doesn't sound middle eastern at all. (For instance "Circe" from "When Sun Comes Out" doesn't sound like anything a middle eastern singer would do, though the liner notes describe it that way.)

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

deraymi- I'd love to try it some middle eastern music. I'm already interested to some flamenco after listening to derek bailey's guitar playin on 'aida' (there's so much on that album).

I'll try to track some of this stuff down (yet some more for the record pile but I need to visit the 'world music' section at tower anyway).

Julio Desouza, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

actually, i meant there's so much to lo listen to on 'aida' not 'so much flamenco', in fact there's a little bit of it (it's all incorporated into his playing).

Julio Desouza, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

He has a chapter on Flamenco on his book on improvisation (but I guess you probably own that, of course).

I don't care much for Flamenco singing, which sounds to me like degenerate Arabic singing (not that I am saying it really is, but to my Arabicized ears, it kind of sounds that way); but I do like the guitar. Where I take salsa classes, there is also a Flamenco dance class. The teacher's husband is a guitarist who plays for the class. When I first heard him playing I was amazed by how good he is. I did kind of a double take, like, wow, this guy is actually really good, not just the teacher's husband who happens to play a little guitar or something. In fact, do you know much about Flamenco guitar, because that's something I'd be interested in hearing recommendations for? (I probably should get off my butt and be daring and go to a little bar at the edge of what used to be the barrio, where this guitarist sometimes accompanies his wife, etc.)

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

god but I do have my half dozen pet topics.

DeRayMi, Wednesday, 14 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

yeah, flamenco guitarists is definetely what I'm after. about flamenco singing it depends how much you've heard. if you haven't heard much then it depends what you've heard.

yeah...i've looked into flamenco guitarists but I can't remember any names (i think there was a webpage somewhere, I suppose I feel a thread coming).

Julio Desouza, Thursday, 15 August 2002 00:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
Sun Ra thread, as (sort of) requested.

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 13:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Related question: Sun Ra for beginners? What would you recommend for a novice (me) who knows the legend but has never (knowingly) heard any of the music? (, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 14:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink, I still think that all in all the "Greatest Hits" that Evidence released is as good a one-CD introduction as any. It might spend a little too much time on material from the 50's for people coming to Sun Ra from an essentially non-jazz background (like me), but it does a nice job of showing the variety in his work, and giving some good examples of it. I would make different choices here and there, but overall it's good. My personal favorite Sun Ra comp. is "Out There a Minute," which draws exclusively from the 60's, and contains a lot of smaller ensmble things. It's not as generally representative as the Greatest Hits, however. Despite the rave reviews for the "Singles" collection, I would steer you away from that as an intro.

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 14:06 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Jazz in Silhoutte" is a good intro. Sounds trad and experimental at the same time. Also one of his best ever.

Ben Williams, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 15:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

One of the big things you miss with the Evidence "Greatest Hits" is the Free Big Band Space Chant sub-genre of Sun Ra's works. (Examples: "Space is the Place" and to some extent "Strange Celesital Roads," though that's a bit mellower and funkier.) Also, there's no live material on there at all, as far as I can remember (but I don't particularly go for the live material).

Rockist Scientist, Tuesday, 8 October 2002 16:16 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...
This new release (first time, I gather) of old material looks promising: New Sun Ra on Atavistic Label

Ra-kist Scientist, Friday, 25 October 2002 23:38 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Haven't heard a couple of those (never heard of the Cleveland thing...what year is it from?). Cosmic Tones/Art Forms is one of my favorites of his, sounds decades ahead of its time.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 30 March 2016 15:57 (one year ago) Permalink

listened to the first track off "live in cleveland" (1975 btw) this morning and the sound quality isn't great at all unfortunately but it's a pretty amazing black gospel chant about the "astro nation of the united world" w/ an underlying funk groove

marcos, Wednesday, 30 March 2016 15:58 (one year ago) Permalink

I'll have to check that out; thanks for that info.

Sound quality is definitely an issue on some live Ra stuff. Most of the Transparency sets sound fine (Detroit 1980-81 residency, All-Stars 1983 set), but some are disappointing (a set with an inaudible Milford Graves supposedly in the lineup).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Wednesday, 30 March 2016 16:29 (one year ago) Permalink

to be honest with you i hardly ever listen to any of his nyc stuff. i like free jazz, but i just don't think "heliocentric worlds" is up there with, say, "ghosts".

diana krallice (rushomancy), Wednesday, 30 March 2016 16:43 (one year ago) Permalink

"springtime again" from sleeping beauty is amazing wow

marcos, Thursday, 31 March 2016 15:11 (one year ago) Permalink

I really like that space funk electric thing he was doing from tghe late 70s to the early 80s including Sleeping Beauty, Lanquididty and Strange Celestial Road. Tghough I think he was still heavily revisiting the late 40s stuff at the same time on different lps which can also be enjoyable.
But I think it was that deep space funk stuff that is my favourite and may be what most people who are more familiar with the myth than the actual catalogue may be yearning for when they want to explore his work. Could be worng about that 2nd bit. Are people actually looking for the heavily discordant stuff that I find less satisfactory?

Stevolende, Thursday, 31 March 2016 15:56 (one year ago) Permalink

may be what most people who are more familiar with the myth than the actual catalogue may be yearning for when they want to explore his work. Could be worng about that 2nd bit. Are people actually looking for the heavily discordant stuff that I find less satisfactory?

rings true to me, i was certainly not looking for heavy discordant raw free jazz and never really felt pulled into heliocentric worlds. i have a lot of noisy raw free jazz already and i'm rarely in the mood for it

marcos, Thursday, 31 March 2016 16:07 (one year ago) Permalink

Are people actually looking for the heavily discordant stuff that I find less satisfactory?

I am, and the Transparency series suggests many others are, as well. He arranged and orchestrated like no other; as much as I love Lanquidity, it's not the ideal showcase for many of his (or his Arkestra's) strengths.

I try to seek out anything that might approach The Magic City in its majesty...also always hunting for spacious, tape-delay/reverb-heavy things like Cosmic Tones/Art Forms and When Angels Speak Of Love.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 31 March 2016 16:07 (one year ago) Permalink

On Jupiter, Sleeping Beauty, Strange Celestial Road, and Lanquidity are all of a piece to my ears - Art Yard reissues of this late 70s sorta r&b/space funk period are quite good imo. I agree that this is probably the most inviting/appealing period of his work to non-jazz/free-jazz heads, structurally and harmonically you get a lot of stuff that has a drifting, pleasant quality to it, without a ton of dissonant wailing (although that does pop up). Cosmos I don't have although it's on my want list, and given that's from the same period I would assume it's similar ...?

cosmic tones for mental therapy - this is way earlier obviously and more in line with the kind of free jazz colliding with exotica he was focusing on

I don't have "live in cleveland" or "my brother the wind vol 2"

I do recommend the recent "Space is the Place - Original Soundtrack" reissue from Sutro Park, which is much different from the "Space is the Place" album proper, and is composed of music used in the actual film. It has a preponderance of my favorite Ra elements - lots of chants/vocals, lots of synth-heavy stuff, and it swings

Οὖτις, Thursday, 31 March 2016 16:42 (one year ago) Permalink

I don't have "live in cleveland" or "my brother the wind vol 2"

I highly recommend My Brother The Wind Vol 2; half is relatively straight-ahead organ-driven work, and the other half is early (possibly his first) solo synthesizer pieces.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 31 March 2016 16:47 (one year ago) Permalink

"cosmos" is one of his top 5 imo

the late great, Thursday, 31 March 2016 17:01 (one year ago) Permalink

my brother the wind vol 2 another yes yes vote from me

peanutbuttereverysingleday, Saturday, 2 April 2016 23:52 (one year ago) Permalink

'Otherness Blue' and 'Somebody Else's World' are totally great. Top June Tyson moments.

Austin, Saturday, 2 April 2016 23:56 (one year ago) Permalink

two months pass...

really enjoying two of the quartet albums, "new steps" and "other voices, other blues" from 1978 and I think reissued a couple years ago. Great sax playing by john gilmore. never heard of him before.
I can already tell these are going to be with me for a while.

nicky lo-fi, Thursday, 16 June 2016 15:34 (one year ago) Permalink

never heard of him before.

have you never listened to Sun Ra before? Gilmore's on p much everything.

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 June 2016 15:45 (one year ago) Permalink

I try periodically try to get into Sun Ra, but it often sounds a little cluttered to me. I don't hate it. It just hasn't clicked for me yet.

nicky lo-fi, Thursday, 16 June 2016 15:58 (one year ago) Permalink

his catalog is massive and highly varied obviously but I'd say his late 70s period is a great entry point in general

Οὖτις, Thursday, 16 June 2016 16:12 (one year ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Brian Eno ‏@dark_shark 59m59 minutes ago
Sun Ra: Live at Stache’s, Columbus, Ohio, January 5, 1985 #mp3 #Arkestra #MarshallAllen

dow, Tuesday, 12 July 2016 01:28 (one year ago) Permalink

Destroy - "It's After the End of the World". I just picked this up for twenty bucks and it's a total rip-off. There's no line-up listed, so I have no way of knowing which tracks Alan Silva is supposedly on. I can't even hear Sun Ra on the first fifteen minutes. The first set has a very generic BYG feel, it could be Don Cherry or Archie Shepp or even the Art Ensemble. The second set has a startling five minute synth solo that sounds like Ra is playing a white noise generator but that's about all there is to recommend it.

― vahid (vahid), Thursday, April 24, 2003 10:37 PM (13 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

I think this is actually the single disc version of the set taht somebody was asking about at the beginning of the thread and somebody else said was Nuits de Fondation Maecht. I have the Double disc version known as Black Myth/Out in Space.
I haven't listened to it in a while and think it was pretty difficult listening in places but o9ver all pretty good.

Stevolende, Tuesday, 12 July 2016 20:39 (one year ago) Permalink

My friend John just sent this research update from Brussels (he liked the xpost Marshall Allen-selected In the Orbit of Ra better than the Art Yard anthologies he mentions, but thought they were all somewhat lacking in range)(I especially wanna check that 2-CD version of Disco 3000):

As an antidote or counterbalance to the tastefully selected, beautifully remastered, but arguably overly genteel anthologies on Art Yard, today I went to the OTHER library and borrowed The Solar-Myth Approach vol. 1 & 2, which I'd never heard before, and which to my ears is kind of a continuation of the Heliocentric Worlds material while not quite reaching the degree of outness of Nuits De La Fondation Maeght vols. 1 & 2.
For the more "advanced material" reissued by Art Yard, there's the 2-CD reissue of Disco 3000, with the entire Milan concert, and Media Dreams with the same lineup minus June Tyson, which was also recorded on the same trip to Italy. Both of these are worth hearing because of the creativity & ingenuity they all demonstrate in the stripped-down quartet format -- e.g. no drummer on the trip so percussion duties are split between John Gilmore on drums and Sun Ra operating a drum machine.

One heavy-duty reissue, also on Art Yard, is the 2-CD version of The Paris Tapes: Live at le Theatre du Chatelet 1971, where the Arkestra comprises 22 people not including the dancers.

I give Art Yard a lot of credit for making it a point to re-release that whole late-70s series like Landquidity, On Jupiter, and especially Sleeping Beauty.

Among the recordings of previously unreleased material that have come out in the last decade, don't overlook the ones on the Transparency label which, contrary to their name, offer next to ZERO information/documentation (at least on the couple that I own).

This page offers a useful overview:
The Sun Ra Arkestra

dow, Thursday, 14 July 2016 19:34 (one year ago) Permalink

I love the Media Dreams and Disco 3000 reissues, good stuff

Οὖτις, Thursday, 14 July 2016 19:54 (one year ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Modern Harmonic to Release Sun Ra's Live Triple LP/Double CD

‘At the Inter-Media Arts’, New York 1991

Triple Slabs of Interplanetary Perfection Available in Limited Pressing on

Record Store Day’s Black Friday, November 25th

Previously Unreleased, From His Archives

A stunning live Sun Ra event, recorded at the Inter-Media Arts Center in New York, April 20, 1991 will be available on Record Store Day's Black Friday event on November 25th. This concert was just two years before Ra’s “earthly departure” – and his keyboard work was amazingly strident and vibrant here. Modern Harmonic presents the tracks for the first time, they are previously unreleased! The Arkestra was in perfect form; this special night also showcased the Arkestra’s vocal magnificence with selections and sections powerfully performed by June Tyson, Michael Ray, T.C. Carney, James Jacson, and John Gilmore. Rarely will you hear the Arkestra with such clarity! Many Sun Ra releases were derived from live performances, but seldom did they have the quality or sonic-punch of this recording. The venerable NYC radio station WNYC were present to record, perfectly capturing the stellar performances.

Check out some music here:

Modern Harmonic is celebrating this magical evening by releasing the complete performance across three premium RTI LP pressings – or on two compact discs – with both configurations packaged in stunning, tri-fold chipboard jackets. The limited edition release also features extensive liners by noted jazz writer Howard Mandel, and is wrapped in a gorgeous design by legendary album-art icon, Jim Flora.

Triple LP pressed on HQ RTI vinyl and double CD, both with extensive liners.

The body and the spirit are not always one. While Herman “Sonny” Blount’s body was born on May 22, 1914, in Birmingham, Alabama, his spirit originated on Saturn a few years later. Around the age of twenty-two, Blount had a transformative experience during a deep religious meditation: “My whole body changed into something else. And I went up... I wasn't in human form. I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn. They teleported me and I was down on stage with them. I would speak [through music], and the world would listen. That's what they told me.” Blount emerged from this encounter determined to fulfill their prophecy. Rechristening himself Le Sony'r Ra, he began a decades-long quest to write and play ever-more adventurous music. Blending elements of bebop, modal jazz, free improvisation, and unclassifiable, otherworldly sounds, Sun Ra built one of the most challenging and innovative recorded catalogs in music history.

Modern Harmonic Records:

dow, Wednesday, 26 October 2016 00:51 (eight months ago) Permalink


Οὖτις, Wednesday, 26 October 2016 17:29 (eight months ago) Permalink

S: Other Voices of There, Strange Strings, Heliocentric, The Magic City, Space Is The Place, and go see the currently touring version of The Arkestra (it's a lot of fun)

D: nah

Blood On The Knobs, Friday, 28 October 2016 05:44 (eight months ago) Permalink

do u mean "Other Planes Of There"? that one's in my "to listen" pile!

sleeve, Friday, 28 October 2016 16:32 (eight months ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

re-watched a Joyful Noise, required some spiritual succor

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 November 2016 20:11 (eight months ago) Permalink

er rewatched it last night because I required some spiritual succor

Οὖτις, Friday, 18 November 2016 20:11 (eight months ago) Permalink

Missed the Arkestra the other night in DC, but Instagram videos from it looked good. 92-year-old Marshall Allen still at it on sax.

curmudgeon, Monday, 21 November 2016 13:24 (eight months ago) Permalink

re the new singles collection:

dow, Tuesday, 29 November 2016 02:00 (seven months ago) Permalink

Clips w that article are pretty sweet

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 29 November 2016 03:49 (seven months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

There's so much understated genius in this. I don't care what anybody says. (Not that I've ever run across anyone saying anything negative about it, but just in case.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 1 January 2017 02:25 (six months ago) Permalink

"out there a minute" was one of the first ra records i heard; an uncle had a copy of the LP (missing "next stop mars" from the CD). it's still one of the ra records i go back to; the stuff on it is among my favorite of his new york stuff (i don't listen to the heliocentric worlds/magic city/atlantis stuff hardly at all).

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Sunday, 1 January 2017 18:01 (six months ago) Permalink

Out There a Minute was the first Sun Ra album I ever bought and it remains my favorite. (I had heard a fair amount on the radio and seen Sun Ra live at least a few times by the time I bought it.)

_Rudipherous_, Sunday, 1 January 2017 18:18 (six months ago) Permalink

just one thing I would like to see on 1/20

great Canadian prog-psych debut from 1969 (Sparkle Motion), Friday, 6 January 2017 17:09 (six months ago) Permalink

just picked up this book from the library -- pretty solid so far

tylerw, Friday, 6 January 2017 17:16 (six months ago) Permalink

tyler have u read Space Is The Place? it is very very good imo

I have not seen or read that one you posted, looks interesting

sleeve, Friday, 6 January 2017 17:20 (six months ago) Permalink

yeah, the Szwed book? It is really good ...
this one is pretty brand new, i believe. less a biography and more of a dig into Sun Ra's influences / influence, it seems.

tylerw, Friday, 6 January 2017 17:22 (six months ago) Permalink

ooh that sounds like just what I need. Swed's book is excellent. I should probably revisit it sometime.

great Canadian prog-psych debut from 1969 (Sparkle Motion), Friday, 6 January 2017 17:39 (six months ago) Permalink

i listened to "the eternal myth revisited" set a couple years back. less a cd set and more a really long radio show type thing. it's really excellent.

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Friday, 6 January 2017 21:21 (six months ago) Permalink

I dip into Szwed's book at random fairly often, it's so rich

Οὖτις, Friday, 6 January 2017 21:23 (six months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

some notes made while listening to the aforementioned new singles set---started these comments on What Are You Listening To; here's more after listening more:

Sun Ra's Singles---The Definitive 45s Collection 1952-1991: 63 tracks, a lot more than the one on the Evidence label (this is on Strut), and from the original masters, while at least some of the Evidence collection was from the low-budget 7" vinyls. Sounds great, and while the guest singers (who gradually disappear, as Ra and the Arkestra speak and sing up, occasionally but very assertively), are uneven, they all shine sometimes. My favorite is Yochanan, AKA The Space Age Vocalist and The Man From The Sun, who belts 50s novelty free r&b numbers "M uck M uck (Matt Matt)" and Skillet Mama" and also delivers the word from further afield.

The two opening songpoems by Mr. Ra are instant grabbers.”I Am An Instrument” is very sweet and humble, waiting for the player; “I Am Strange” begins in the midst of a man’s amazed and somewhat apprehensive self-awareness, his vibrations, then moves through the window to the wind’s imploring, perhaps lamenting regard of the man, whom the wind cannot approach too closely; can only wait and call for the man’s contact, must submit to this desire, for windy powers are too great for initiative (this seems like the genesis of My Brother The Wind). More songs than the previous singles collection on the Evidence label.

The rock 'n' roll/r&b appeal of some vocals and more instrumentals, (including the original Sun Ra single versions of “Rocket No. 9” and “Love On Outer Space”, both of which are covered on NRBQ’s 2016 monster box High Noon, and reminding us that Q-pilot Terry Adams long ago declared that his band was the child of Sun Ra and Sun Records) can also come across kinda Latinoid, in a way that could attract the soul jazz club-goers, Chicago electric bluesters---all of it fitting into what some older customers of my Deep South music store in the 90s meant by "blues", sometimes. And, early on, some straight-up swing---nice, sometimes a little neat for my taste--and some tentacles extended, but soon assimilated, though not forgotten---this is Disc I, on II things def get out, though "The Bridge", which is cosmic and must be walked after "fire is poured on dry leaves" and one way left to go, is immediately followed by "I'm Gonna Unmask Batman" and it keeps zig-zagging like that. And the catchier pop-blues-jazz approaches stuff can pull in darker rays, like on "Nuclear War": "Radiation breeds mutation" (group singers repeat), "And when they push that button, you can kiss yo' ass bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye." ("Bye-bye, bye-bye, bye-bye.")
After all several appearances by a frequently angry angel, the aforementioned sweet and humble “I Am An Instrument” returns, now pointing out that man is an instrument too, waiting for the plucking of his heart strings: “The heart can speak more than the mind” (thus providing a reminder of the mind passing the conductor’s bation, as demonstrated recently on “On Jupiter/Cosmo Drama (Prophetika 1)” by the angel, who may be fate and certainly sounds in a pleasant mood, on this occasion, with good news:”Something is, but nothing is too”,and while positives include “The life you liiive, and the thoughts you think, and the death you die”, negatives include immortality, because that’s impossible---”Election Day is coming, which one will you vote for? If you care to reach for thee impossible, that’s my department.”)

dow, Saturday, 21 January 2017 00:51 (six months ago) Permalink

i'm still really familiar with the old singles collection, which is just some great, classic ra. i do like some of the tracks that showed up on the '09 "rocket ship rock" compilation - ebah's version of "i am gonna unmask the batman" (surely one of the all-time sun ra classics) and the utterly demented "space stroll" by don (dino) dean.

increasingly bonkers (rushomancy), Saturday, 21 January 2017 23:52 (six months ago) Permalink

Dang, Don (Dino) Dean's not on here! Another reminder that I need to check out Rocket Ship Rock and other stray comps. Also, turns out I was right the first time: The CD version of Singles---The Complete 45s is indeed three discs; anyway here's

Also, speaking of guest/client vocalists, here's another one from my notes:
Hattye Randolph presents Sun Ra & His Astro-Infinity Arkestra with a seemingly unlikely gift, “Back In Your Own Backyard”, and they return the favor, simultaneously: this little blue mirrorverse is singing after supper, totally at home, knowing we travel even sitting back, and everywhere is outer space, also vice versa, like/in music maybe especially.

dow, Sunday, 22 January 2017 19:46 (six months ago) Permalink

Verified Purchaser and Top 100 Reviewer Stuart Jefferson mentions these on Amazon:
There's also single CDs like the two volume set "Doo-Wop From Saturn and Beyond", with titles "Interplanetary Melodies" and "The Second Stop Is Jupiter". These sets contain largely unissued tracks but are still full of that Ra magic. There's also "Rocket Ship Rock" (more issued/unissued sides), and "Spaceship Lullaby" (vocal groups), both which are worth hearing for Ra fans.

dow, Sunday, 22 January 2017 19:56 (six months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

I've been listening to Monorails and Satellites, Vol. 2 for the first time. Nothing to say but wow, for now. I've been neglecting to keep up with what's become available on Spotify, now that apparently some issues with who has the rights to what have been thrashed out.

_Rudipherous_, Saturday, 11 February 2017 06:18 (five months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

definitely picking up "discipline 27-ii" for RSD but what about "janus"?

the late great, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 19:10 (three months ago) Permalink

it got one vote up and one vote down on this thread

i'm fascinated by the idea that bugs hunter was a big part of the janus sessions ... always loved his tape experiments on "cosmic tones" and the track below too

the late great, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 19:12 (three months ago) Permalink

that Discipline 27-II reissue looks great, too bad I probably won't be able to get my hands on it

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 19:13 (three months ago) Permalink

I'm lukewarm on Janus, seemed like a patchwork reissue with different sessions mixed up iirc

sleeve, Wednesday, 19 April 2017 19:15 (three months ago) Permalink

You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.