SUN RA Atlantis (Saturn Research) lp 14.98
SUN RA Concert for the Comet Kahoutek (Get Back) lp 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Several ESP-Disc classics have been re-pressed onto 180-gram vinyl by some nice Italians, whoo-ooo! A great early 70's Sun Ra cosmic keyboard/spacefunk concert, *the* essential Patty Waters avant-jazz-vocal platter (with "Black Is the Color Of My True Loves Hair"), a freaky underground scene sound collage document (with the likes of the VU and Allen Ginsberg), and an all-star free jazz soundtrack from '65 with Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai, Gary Peacock, and Sunny Murray! And, as the now-deleted cd reissues of these are becoming harder and harder to come by, just in time.
SUN RA Concert For The Comet Kohoutek (Get Back/ESP-Disk) cd 16.98
We thought that the Dutch label Calibre had taken over the task of reissuing ESP-Disk classics, but for some reason they've licensed some of the titles to the Italian label Get Back, who like to release cds in little cardboard lp-styled sleeves. Anyway, either way, we're glad that this album is back in the racks. One of our favorite of the many Sun Ra documents, this recording dates from December 1973, showcasing Sun Ra's amazing early '70s synth-madness and the Arkestra's jazz-funk spaced-out-chants (like the version found here of the classic "Space Is The Place"). The turbulent cosmic journey of the Comet Kohutek is rendered in sound with Sun Ra's arsenal of keyboard electronics, and celebrated with the space-positive grooves of the rest of the band. Great stuff!
SUN RA Cosmos (Inner City) lp 14.98
SUN RA Disco 3000 (Art Yard) 2cd 32.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Hard to resist a Sun Ra record with a title like that, eh? And drum machine, too! The late, great, interplanetary legend of Afro-cosmic jazz and his band recorded this newly reissued album live on planet Earth (precise location: Milan, Italy) back in 1978, at the height of disco fever. But of course it ain't really disco!! Instead it's far out free jazz grooviness, full of futuristic synth freakouts and even tinny, metronomic drum machine shuffle. All of which you'll find on the worth the price of admission alone 26 minute title track, which also incorporates the Arkestra's signature "Space Is The Place" chant at one point. Nor does this set stint on screaming horns and energetic battery. Or for that matter mellow, melodic moodiness. Highlights are many, among them the gurgling chaos and solar sax blurt of "Sun Of The Cosmos", and the eerie, glistening, jittering "Dance Of The Cosmo Aliens". Featuring the lineup of John Gilmore (tenor sax, drums, vocals), June Tyson (vocals), Michael Ray (trumpet, vocals), Luqman Ali (drums, vocals) and last but not least Sun Ra himself (piano, organ, Moog synth, rhythm machine, vocals), this expanded double cd reissue of Disco 3000 is definitely cause for rejoicing amongst Sun Ra (and cosmo alien) fans. Over two hours total, this includes the original three tracks from the '78 vinyl release along with NINE more bonus tracks taken from the thankfully well-preserved tapes of the same performance, is packaged in a handsome trifold digpack, and comes with a cd booklet with photos, graphics, and liner notes by trumpeter Michael Ray, who had just hooked up with Sun Ra not long before this recording took place. His mind is still blown! Share something of his experience here...
"Disco 3000" MPEG Stream:
"Sun Of The Cosmos" MPEG Stream:
"Dance Of The Cosmo Aliens"
SUN RA Disco 3000 (Kindred Spirits) lp 24.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Now available on vinyl! Hard to resist a Sun Ra record with a title like that, eh? And drum machine, too! The late, great, interplanetary legend of Afro-cosmic jazz and his band recorded this newly reissued album live on planet Earth (precise location: Milan, Italy) back in 1978, at the height of disco fever. But of course it ain't really disco!! Instead it's far out free jazz grooviness, full of futuristic synth freakouts and even tinny, metronomic drum machine shuffle. All of which you'll find on the worth the price of admission alone 26 minute title track, which also incorporates the Arkestra's signature "Space Is The Place" chant at one point. Nor does this set stint on screaming horns and energetic battery. Or for that matter mellow, melodic moodiness. Highlights are many, among them the gurgling chaos and solar sax blurt of "Sun Of The Cosmos", and the eerie, glistening, jittering "Dance Of The Cosmo Aliens". Featuring the lineup of John Gilmore (tenor sax, drums, vocals), June Tyson (vocals), Michael Ray (trumpet, vocals), Luqman Ali (drums, vocals) and last but not least Sun Ra himself (piano, organ, Moog synth, rhythm machine, vocals), this vinyl reissue of Disco 3000 is definitely cause for rejoicing amongst Sun Ra (and cosmo alien) fans.
"Disco 3000" MPEG Stream:
"Dance Of The Cosmo Aliens"
SUN RA Featuring Pharoah Sanders & Black Harold (ESP-Disk) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
"The Other World" MPEG Stream:
"Discipline 9" MPEG Stream:
"Dawn Over Israel"
SUN RA Great Lost Sun Ra Albums: Cymbals & Crystal Spears (Evidence) 2cd 31.00
Originally intended for release on the Impulse jazz label 27 years ago, but not available until now! The liner notes explain the story of Sun Ra's brief major label experience (so brief that it resulted in the burial of these recordings). But now, like lost treasures excavated from an ancient tomb (or in this case, the El Saturn vaults), they have returned to our world, and jazz/Sun Ra fans should be thankful. Some song titles, some quite appropriate to the preceeding archeological analogy (heck, they sound like titles from a Nile record!): "The Order Of The Pharaonic Jesters", "The Embassy Of the Living God", "The Eternal Sphynx", "Thoughts Under A Dark Blue Light"... The material on these two discs ranges from the quite lovely to the exceedingly "out". Just expose your ears the opening electronic keyboard attack of "Crystal Spears". Heavy duty Sun Ra, lost treasure indeed!
"The Order Of The Pharaonic Jesters" RealAudio clip:
SUN RA Greatest Hits (Evidence) cd 16.98
Subtitled: "Easy Listening For Intergalactic Travel". Ok, so Sun Ra never really had any "hits" by any commerical standards but these are some fan favorites from Ra's classic El Saturn records, circa 1956-1973 (tracks from 15 lps, actually, plus a song from the Space Is The Place movie soundtrack and two singles cuts). Definitely good place to start for Sun Ra novices, particularily those of a more trad jazz bent. Although these tracks are, as the subtitle indicates, perhaps some of his most "easy listening" (including Monk and Gershwin covers), they are still prime Sun Ra and thus weird and wonderful.
SUN RA Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 3 - The Lost Tapes (ESP-Disk) cd 14.98
Sun Ra's Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 3 is a continuation of Vol. 2, the original tape of which were just recently found, transferred, mastered and released NOW for the first time! These two volumes were recorded in New York City at the RLA Studios on November 16, 1965. Just this collection alone is an incredible piece of music (and I didn't miss the one minute of tape that was destroyed in storage). This recording is from a time when Sun Ra and some of his Solar Arkestra were stranded in New York following a tour of Canada. Removed from their familiar environment in Chicago, they were able to push into groundbreaking musical territory. They combined their empassioned views of the socio-political symptoms of the time with a pushing of their own boundaries within jazz to create not simply music to absorb, but quite nearly a mystical soundtrack to a spirituality-driven social revolution. Sun Ra's involvement with The White Panther Party (an artists' collective from Detroit formed by John and Leni Sinclair after The Black Panther Party) led to this manifestation of their ideas, ideals and demands we hear in the Heliocentric Worlds albums and see in the WPP art work from the time. Together they sought a "total assault on culture". A non-violent social revolution with its terms spoken through music. Incredible. Incredible. Incredible. Where is our Sun Ra of today?
"Heliocentric Worlds" MPEG Stream:
SUN RA Interstellar Low Ways (El Saturn) lp 14.98
SUN RA It is Forbidden (Total Energy) cd 14.98
Sun Ra & His Intergalactic Arkestra return to the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival in Exile 1974, as documented on this live archival release. Eleven rambunctious and festive songs are presented (annoyingly programmed as one single track), and even without songtitles like "Second Stop Jupiter" and "Love In Outer Space" you'd be convinced that they're something just a little spaced-out about them. The title track, we're told, may be making its first recorded appearance here.
SUN RA It's After The End Of The World (Universe) cd 16.98
SUN RA Lanquidity (Evidence) cd 17.98
An exceedingly rare 1978 Sun Ra lp, now lovingly reissued on cd by Evidence as part of a mindboggling new slew of Ra releases. Apparently a fave with acid jazz djs, if they could find a copy of the original lp on the Philly Jazz "micro-label". Five spacey, gorgeous tracks. From the slow, achingly beautiful opening title track, to the space-funk of "Where The Pathways Meet", to the cosmic coctail jazz of "Twin Stars of Thence", and to the final, magnificent, eerie "There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)", with the whispered and chanted voices of Ra, June Tyson, and others imparting unintelligible ancient wisdom, this is a fantastic disc. Don't fear the presence of one "Disco Kid" on guitar, this is far from being cheesy or dated disco dancefloor material. A true "kosmigroove" find, one that of course Sun Ra fans, but also '70s Miles Davis fans, will absolutely love.
SUN RA Lanquidity (Philly Jazz) lp 14.98
Now (again) available on vinyl! Here's what we wrote about the cd reissue that came out three years ago: an exceedingly rare 1978 Sun Ra LP, apparently a fave with acid jazz djs, if they could find a copy of the original lp on the Philly Jazz "micro-label". Five spacey, gorgeous tracks. From the slow, achingly beautiful opening title track, to the space-funk of "Where The Pathways Meet", to the cosmic coctail jazz of "Twin Stars of Thence", and to the final, magnificent, eerie "There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)", with the whispered and chanted voices of Ra, June Tyson, and others imparting unintelligible ancient wisdom, this is a fantastic disc. Don't fear the presence of one "Disco Kid" on guitar, this is far from being cheesy or dated disco dancefloor material. A true "kosmigroove" find, one that of course Sun Ra fans, but also '70s Miles Davis fans, will absolutely love.
SUN RA Life Is Splendid (Total Energy) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A previously unreleased, legendary live recording by Sun Ra & his Solar Myth Orchestra, from 1972's Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival! Space IS the place!
SUN RA Media Dreams (Art Yard) 2cd 31.00
Just the Sun Ra album to make your friends go, "what the bleep bloop is that? (bleep bloop)". That's 'cause the cosmic-Afro-jazz maestro's space age synthesizer extemporaneity is fully one-fourth (or much more!) of the soundfield, this being the product of an unusual quartet lineup (Sun Ra: piano, organ, Moog synth, rhythm machine, vocals, John Gilmore: tenor sax, drums, vocals, Luqman Ali: drums, vocals, Michael Ray: trumpet, vocals), So, want some way-out Sun Ra action? Check this out! The groaning low-end synth that starts disc one, track one ("Saturn Research") should immediately get your attention. And by track two, "Constellation", Ra & Co. have gotten into a groove worthy of the Star Wars cantina... Throughout, all sorts of warped electronic sounds are conjured by Ra's keyboards, with his primitive drum machine occasionally also augmenting the beats of the live drummer in the mix. This is the follow up Disco 3000, highlighted here a few weeks ago, and if you liked that, you'll like this too. If anything it's possessed of even more mystery and otherworldliness (as only Sun Ra can deliver, in the realm of jazz or elsewhere). Again, as with Art Yard's Disco 3000 reissue, this is an expanded double cd edition (13 tracks, 96 minutes), restoring much previously unreleased music from the original performance tapes recorded on tour in Italy in 1978, with this unique four-piece mini-Arkestra. Like we said, this is laced with lots of spooky electronic drone and bleepage, but of course as "out" as it gets, being a Sun Ra record there's a lot of jazz tradition to it too, with Ra getting melodic on the piano, and featuring plenty of gorgeous sax soloing from Gilmore, though he gets freaky with it too. Plus there's scaled-down versions of some of the Arkestra's famous space-positive chants -- and a rather more negative chant as well: "The Truth About Planet Earth... Is A Bad Truth!" They sound inexplicably happy chanting that one, maybe 'cause they have travel plans to other planets anyway -- the next track after it is "Space Is The Place".
"Saturn Research" MPEG Stream:
"Media Dreams" MPEG Stream:
"Twigs At Twilight"
SUN RA Music From Tomorrow's World (Atavistic / Unheard Music Series) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. These never-before issued recordings are of live performances in 1960 at the Wonder Inn and Majestic Hall, before Sun Ra moved his Arkestra out of Chicago to New York. Arkestra sessions at the Wonder Inn drew many emerging avant-jazz players who would later define the new sound, and these dates include Philip Cohran (who would go onto the AACM and his own Ethnic Heritage Ensemble), Ronnie Boykins, John Gilmore, and Marshal Allen. At the Wonder Inn, Gershwin standards, complete with vocals, are given time alongside Sun Ra originals; at Majestic Hall, inventive percussive improvs share space with almost romantic melodicism and space-age big band riffs. "Music From Tomorrow's World" is an illuminating insight into an idea in development: the Arkestra ranks are relatively small compared to later incarnations, the extra-terrestrial costumes are just beginning, and the sound is in transition from post-bop to more experimental approaches.
"Space Aura" RealAudio clip:
SUN RA Newport Jazz Festival / The Electric Circus (Transparency) 2cd 16.98
SUN RA Nidhamu & Dark Myth Equation Visitation (Art Yard) cd 22.00
SUN RA Of Mythic Worlds (Philly Jazz) lp 14.98
SUN RA On Jupiter (Art Yard) cd 17.98
Recorded just one year after the classic Lanquidity, our all time AQ Sun Ra favorite, our ears are finally getting to groove on the spaced out soulful and funk fueled sounds of On Jupiter. As always Sun Ra was in his own galaxy, and the orbit he was inhabiting here was sort of in a great Funkadelic gone cosmic jazz sensation armed with tripped out ensemble vocals as well as the voice of June Tyson on the title track. With just three perfectly titled tracks "On Jupiter", "UFO", and "Seductive Fantasy" you really can judge the record based on those song titles and its intergalactic spacefreefunk cover art. We got a feeling that this Sun Ra album gets heavy rotation in the living rooms of Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo (Gnarls Barkley) as well as in the homes of all the Beastie Boys who have tried to channel Sun Ra's intergalactic and genre defying freewheeling spirit into their own sounds. On Jupiter really does pack a bit of everything into its half hour, from beautifully played forward thinking jazz (Sun Ra's piano playing on the closing track is so pretty!) to its more cosmic-funk freakouts filled with dirty bass and guitar, and somehow it maintains a total cohesion that many Sun Ra recordings, in all their genius, seem to lack. We're loving this!
"On Jupiter" MPEG Stream:
"UFO" MPEG Stream:
SUN RA Outer Space Employment Agency (Total Energy) cd 13.98
Live at the Ann Arbor Blues & Jazz Festival 1973! Starts off with some almost Merzbowian keyboard noise. Good sound, & liner notes by John Sinclair.
SUN RA Pathways to Unknown Worlds / Friendly Love (Evidence) cd 15.98
One rare, and one unreleased Sun Ra lp combined on single disc. Dating from the early-mid '70s, these lps seem like classic Ra of the period, featuring most desired Sun Ra motifs from stately spaciness, to keyboard exoticism, to screaming horn soloing. Both lps were intended for Impulse records, but only "Pathways" actually made it out at the time (and is now presented in remixed form with a bonus track previously omitted for technical reasons, now corrected). Beauty, noise, genius, another treat for Sun Ra fans.
SUN RA Shadows Took Shape (Transparency) 2cd 15.98
SUN RA Sleeping Beauty (Art Yard) cd 17.98
"Springtime Again" MPEG Stream:
"Door of the Cosmos" MPEG Stream:
SUN RA Solar Myth Approach vol. 1 & 2 (Charly / BYG / Actuel) 2cd 23.00
We thought these Charly BYG/Actuel reissue cds were gone forever, but lo! here they are again. Dunno what's up, but get 'em while you can. So here's another legendary item in the welcome BYG/Actuel reissue program, the one and only Sun Ra and his Solar Myth Orchestra (including, of course, Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson, and many others) play Ra's unique moog-flavored outer space big band jazz, truly out, truly psychedelic. 14 tracks, all Sun Ra compositions.
SUN RA Solar-Myth Approach (vol 1) (Actuel) lp 15.98
Reissue of two excellent lps, both recorded between 1970 & 1971 in New York and released in 1971 on BYG/Actuel of France. The one and only Sun Ra and his Solar Myth Orchestra (including, of course, Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, June Tyson, and many others) play Ra's unique moog-flavored outer space big band jazz, truly out, truly psychedelic. Seven tracks each, all Sun Ra compositions.
SUN RA Solar-Myth Approach Vol 2 (Actuel) lp 14.98
SUN RA Some Blues But Not The Kind Thats Blue (Atavistic / Unheard Music Series) cd 15.98
Definitely not that kind of blues. Or blues at all. Sun Ra, even when playing "inside", tends to go way out. Here's another in the ongoing series of reissue releases on Atavistic of obscure Sun Ra sides from back in the day, in this case an Saturn LP circa 1977 that sees Sun Ra and a relaxed, slightly reduced crew (not quite the full-on Arkestra, but still featuring such notable Sun Ra stalwarts as saxophonists John Gilmore and Marshall Allen) doing a set of mostly jazz standards like "My Favorite Things" and "Nature Boy" in Sun Ra's own inimitable fashion, just a bit freer than they ever were before (well, Coltrane's various takes on "My Favorite Things" could compete). Don't look to this disc for a ton of crazy cosmic synth-splosions from Ra (like those found on the recent reish of Media Dreams), he pretty much sticks to a more "straight" sort of piano playin', but boy is this beautiful, as soulful as it is eccentric. This nicely presented, slipcased reissue includes three bonus tracks, one from the album sessions and two more unreleased cuts from a 1973 Sun Ra organ trio recording date.
"Some Blues But Not The Kind Thats Blue" MPEG Stream:
"My Favorite Things"
SUN RA Space Is The Place (Impulse) cd 16.98
Classic 1972 cosmic jazz album, finally reissued on cd (not the same as the movie soundtrack with the identical title). Essential.
SUN RA Space Is The Place (Plexifilm) dvd 25.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The completely awesome fictional (or is it?) Sun Ra movie now available in a swank DVD edition courtesy of the fine folks at Plexifilm. If you've seen this already you know it's the best low budget science fiction afro-jazz freak film ever made, and you'll want this new version with bonus stuffs. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? Sun Ra was a genius and also had a sense of humor, this film proves. Made here in the Bay Area by some public television guys and shot on the same sound stage (at the same time!) as the Mitchell Bros. famed porno opus Behind The Green Door (!) this is simply out of this world: the music (lots of live performances), the story, the visuals. Sun Ra wrote all his own lines, by the way. This dvd 'director's cut' restores the film to its original 82 minute length, and includes some truly special features, among them a video interview with the director and producer, and and some silent bonus footage of Ra and the Arkestra cavorting at the Pyramids in Egypt! And for more Sun Ra dvd action, see the review elsewhere this list for The Cry Of Jazz, a 1959 film featuring Sun Ra and his Arkestra.
SUN RA Space Is The Place (Sutro Park) 2lp 17.98
Not to be confused with the studio album of the same name, this is a fine deluxe vinyl reissue of the soundtrack to the 1972 freaky cosmic Afro-jazz film, Space Is The Place, the completely awesome fictional (or is it?) Sun Ra movie. If you've seen this already you know it's the best low budget science fiction afro-jazz freak film ever made. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? Sun Ra was a genius and also had a sense of humor, this film proves as he wrote all his own lines. Made here in the Bay Area by some public television guys and shot on the same sound stage (at the same time!) as the Mitchell Bros. famed porno opus Behind The Green Door (!) this is simply out of this world: the music (lots of live performances), the story, the visuals. But it's the music we want to talk about here. If anyone needs a good introduction into the overall sound and philosophy of this visionary genius at his peak, this is perhaps the best place to start. The compositions are adventurous and grooving. Lots of chants and vocal call and responses by the one and only June Tyson, plus some stellar synth and organ excursions by the man himself. This is the record where you get all sides, uncompromising free jazz work-outs, and aggressive blasts of sound, but also cosmic dreaminess, contemplative blues and left-field funk, cinematically tied together in sound and vision. Brought to us, by the same folks who gave us the Sandy Bull and Peter Walker vinyl reissues as well as the awesome recent blues compilation, Wolf's At The Door. So fucking good!
SUN RA Space Probe: A Tonal View Of Times Tomorrow, Vol. 1 (Art Yard) cd 21.00
There's certainly no shortage of Sun Ra reissues, the idiosyncratic bandleader recorded a LOT of stuff over his long career, and while we try to review as many of 'em as we can, we can't review 'em all... and don't really need to, as you can't go too wrong with any of 'em, if you appreciate Ra's spacey Afrocentric jazz in general, especially the way his music is often both outside and inside at the same time. But when a Ra reissue comes along that starts off with an otherworldly 18 minute Mini-Moog solo from the man himself, then that's one that we know we've GOT to list. "Space Probe" is the track in question, an apt title indeed, recorded circa 1969, right about when Sun Ra received a prototype model from Robert Moog, for testing purposes. Test it he did!! So this is a historic recording, and we can't help but quote what it says here about how "Moog always claimed afterwards that he never understood exactly where some of those sounds came from - suspecting he [Sun Ra] might have modified the instrument in some way." Elsewhere on this disc, regular Sun Ra sidemen Marshall Allen (flute) and John Gilmore (bass clarinet) appear, along with James Jacson (log drum), Nimrod Hunt (hand drum) and Thea Barbara (wordless, operatic vocals), with material from sessions dating to the early '60s; a small, spare ensemble playing "jazz" that has to go in quotes. "Sun Ra music" is more like it. And it's intergalactic, atmospheric, avant garde groove (and anti-groove) unlike much else in this universe. Some of the tracks appeared on the 1974 Saturn label vinyl release, Space Probe, others are previously unissued takes. Worth it for "Space Probe" alone, which combines '50s sci-fi film sound effects with proto-techno pulsations, so very different from the relaxed wooden rhythms and flute flutter of the 13+ minute "The Conversation Of J.P.", another of this disc's highlights. Nicely done Art Yard reissue as always, in a slim trifold digipack with liner notes.
"Space Probe" MPEG Stream:
"Recollections Of There" MPEG Stream:
"The Conversation Of J.P."
SUN RA Spaceship Lullaby (Atavistic / Unheard Music Series) cd 14.98
Remember the doo-wop tracks on that Sun Ra singles double cd? This is that sort of stuff. Otherworldly 50s doo-wop from Ra & Co.
SUN RA Strange Celestial Road (Rounder / Celestial) lp 14.98
SUN RA Strange Strings (Atavistic / Unheard Music Series) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Strange is right! And it's not just the strings. This 1966 recording by out-jazz pioneer Sun Ra and his adventurous Astro Infinity Arkestra is strange all over. This could SO totally be a current day improv psych cd-r from some of our Finnish friends, for instance... if it weren't recorded 40 years ago by one of the foremost geniuses of 20th century American jazz (and Afro-Outer-Space art). The idea here is that alongside the horns and flutes and bass all the usual instrumentation of the Arkestra, they're improvising on a collection of completely unfamiliar instruments -- the sundry "strange strings" of the title. Odd, exotic stringed instruments possibly including: Chinese lute, "moon-guitar" (?), mandolin, banjo, koto, bandura, ukelin (a zither type instrument), and others yet to be identified. Directed only by loose gestures from Sun Ra, the band expresses themselves freely on these strange strings... and the results must rank among the weirdest and most abstract sounds in Sun Ra's vast catalog, an unhinged tangle of sputtering pluckery and string-scrape. In addition, some sort of percussion adds thunderous rumbling metallic drones (this is presumably the "lightning drum" with which Ra is also credited, along with electronic piano). It could be a sheet of metal, or even a metal musical sculpture, as this reissue's extensive and investigative liner notes postulate. Another sonic element making the proceedings even stranger is the wordless, otherworldly "space vocal" of Art Jenkins aka Thlan Aldridge. There's three tracks here from the rare original Saturn-label release, plus a fourth bonus cut. "Worlds Approaching" starts things off with a 10+ minutes of woozy Wurlitzer, clonky horn burble, and percussive clatter. Then the shambolic strange strings orgy begins with "Strings Strange" (12:47) and continues through to the epic "Strange Strange" (20:53). Log drums pulse beneath the reverbed apeshit freeform freakout of strings, space vocals, and metallic crashes. And, after all that, there's the ten and a half minute bonus track. Which believe it or not, is probably the strangest (there's that word again) thing on here! It's called "Door Squeak" and YES that's right, it's actually Sun Ra "playing" a squeaky, creaky door. Which is exactly what it so spookily sounds like. Pretty cool we think, a nice simple coda to the preceding mayhem, celebrating a pure love of sound, whatever the source, and its mysterious power over our imaginations. Good grief, it's astonishing that even with so many Sun Ra reissues already out, there's STILL amazing stuff like this to be unearthed.
"Strings Strange" MPEG Stream:
"Strange Strange" MPEG Stream:
SUN RA The Creator Of The Universe (Transparancy) 2cd 16.98
SUN RA The Futuristic Sounds Of (Five Four / Cherry Red) cd 15.98
As many of you know sometimes navigating the world of the prolific and brilliant legacy of Sun Ra can be so daunting and overwhelming. Not only did he make so many records in his lifetime but over the years there have been a multitude of collections, reissues and live recordings, to the point that knowing which Sun Ra recording you need next can feel quite overwhelming. Of course Sun Ra is most known and lauded for his free jazz inventions but what is often overlooked is that in order to go so out and free he first developed and explored an incredibly rich swing developing a seriously solid bebop foundation. This 1961 record gives little hints as to the outer world Sun Ra would eventually fly off to. Sheer brilliance! Such a great record!
"The Beginning" MPEG Stream:
"Looking Outward" MPEG Stream:
SUN RA The Night Of The Purple Moon (Atavistic / Unheard Music Series) cd 15.98
Yowza, another cool Sun Ra reissue! The space-jazz legend left this earth long ago now, but continues to astound. It's the first time on cd for The Night Of The Purple Moon, a 1970 session (originally released on LP in '72) by Ra and "His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra", which here means a rare small-group outing, featuring Sun Ra getting down on twin Mini-Moogs and, for the majority of the record, something called a "Roksichord" (back then, a new-fangled solid state electronic keyboard, simulating a harpsichord and meant mainly for rock bands). He's accompanied by Akestra stalwart John Gilmore on the drums (instead of his usual saxophone, though he does bust out his tenor on one cut, "Impromptu Festival"), Danny Davis on alto and clarinet and flute and bongos (and drums when Gilmore takes over on sax), and the electric bass of Safford James. It's an intimate, groovy, spaced-out lounge-jazz thing they've got going, somehow (though unsurprisingly, since it's Sun Ra) simultaneously tweaked and eerie, jaunty and haunted... The nasal, rinky-dink distorted electronic sounds of Ra's Roksichord are predominant, augmented by the occasional outburst of sax. This is given even more weird atmosphere by the spare production and the slightly scratchy presence of surface noise, as the master tapes were destroyed and this cd reissue was prepared from an unplayed copy of the original vinyl release. Nothing we'd complain about of course. And this slipcased cd reish, with liner notes by John Corbett, also includes four bonus tracks -- one alternate take, and three *previously unreleased* tracks of Sun Ra Wurlitzer electric piano and Celeste solos home-recorded in 1964, even weirder and more otherworldly (muffled and lo-fi and abstract and thus ethereal) than anything he could conjure from those Moogs and the Roksichord later on. Recommended (duh, it's a Sun Ra reissue!).
"The Night Of The Purple Moon" MPEG Stream:
"Dance Of The Living Image" MPEG Stream:
"Wurlitzer Solo 1"
SUN RA The Night of the Purple Moon (Saturn Research) lp 14.98
SUN RA The Other Side of the Sun (Universe) cd 16.98
1979 Sun Ra LP reissued as a mini-gatefold cd as well on vinyl. Lovely, loungey space-jazz, including Sun Ra standard/anthem "Space Is The Place".
SUN RA The Other Side of the Sun (Universe) lp 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. 1979 Sun Ra LP reissued as a mini-gatefold cd as well on vinyl. Lovely, loungey space-jazz, including Sun Ra standard/anthem "Space Is The Place".
SUN RA The Singles (Evidence) 2cd 28.00
INCREDIBLE! "This 2-disc collection of Sun Ra-related 45s and alternate takes took over three years to compile. It contains every Saturn single that we know to exist as of August, 1996, that did not appear on an album, with the exception of 4 sides by Walt Dunn which would not fit on these two cds and on which Sun Ra does not play. Often pressed in lots of 50, these singles, recorded between 1954 and 1982, represent the 'Holy Grail' among Sun Ra collectors, and have never appeared on lp or cd. The 36-page booklet contains liner notes written by four of the universe's leading Ra experts, as well as detailed discographical information and rare photos."
SUN RA The Soul Vibrations Of Man (Saturn Research) lp 14.98
SUN RA When Angels Speak Of Love (Evidence) cd 16.98
Another new Evidence label Sun Ra reissue, originally an El Saturn lp from '63. I think we'll go ahead and quote the full Evidence press release for this one, just in case anyone needs the background info on Sun Ra (it's easier than trying to explain the basics about the man and his music ourselves... but I wish they hadn't mentioned Phish, don't let that discourage you if you're new to Sun Ra): "Evidence Music returns with a highly-anticipated series of five CD packages, including a 2-CD box of unreleased albums, by Sun Ra, the colorful jazz bandleader whose association with interplanetary travel, ancient Egypt, and big band and electronic keyboard innovation made him one of the 20th Century's most influential and eccentric musical icons. Evidence has been working on the series for four years -- since issuing its award-winning Sun Ra compilation The Singles in 1996. All but Lanquidity emanate from Sun Ra's own label, El Saturn Records. All packages contain extensive liner notes, historical documentation and photographs. Easily one of the oddest personalities in the history of jazz, the bandleader, composer and keyboardist known as Sun Ra claimed to be an extraterrestrial from the planet Saturn. Actually born Herman 'Sonny' Blount in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914, he studied music at Alabama A&M University and became a big-band leader in his home town. Eventually, he moved to Chicago where he would write arrangements for Fletcher Henderson, change his name to Le Sony'r Ra, and start his first 'Arkestra' with saxophonists and band members-for-life John Gilmore, Marshall Allen and Pat Patrick. In the mid and late '50s, he prolifically recorded 45s and LPs for his own Saturn label, even accompanying and writing arrangements for doo-wop groups. His earliest albums were for Transition Records and later Delmark Records in 1957. In 1961, he moved to New York where he continued to record for El Saturn and the indie ESP-Disk label. Sun Ra continued his extensive concert date schedule into the early '90s, and even got as far as signing with A&M Records. He left this planet on May 30, 1993, but his music remains an ongoing source of wonderment and inspiration for all who discover it, as it was for musicians as diverse as George Clinton, Sonic Youth and Phish. Thanks to Evidence Music's reissue program -- five important new CDs in addition become available for future generations. This album, When Angels Speak of Love, originally recorded in 1963 and released in 1966, is the rarest of Sun Ra's self-released albums on his own El Saturn label. Only a handful of the original pressing still remain. The album was recorded during Sun Ra's New York residency. Considered by many to be his richest period. This reissue preserves what has been a lost artifact from the 'New Thing' revolution in jazz in New York City's Greenwich Village in the mid-60s."
SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA Live Soundscape (DIW) 2cd 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Live from 1979 with June Tyson. There's also a 70-minute second disc which features Sun Ra lecturing on "The Possibility of Altered Destiny".
SUN RA & HIS ARKESTRA The Cry Of Jazz (Atavistic) dvd 21.00
Well, Sun Ra fans have two good reasons to go out and buy themselves a DVD player if they don't happen to have one already -- number one, the DVD release of the Sun Ra sci-fi flick Space Is The Place, reviewed nearby. Number two, this item, a 1959 "polemic on the politics of music and race" made by filmmaker/musician Edward O. Bland that features live footage of Sun Ra, John Gilmore, and the rest of the Arkestra, shot in Chicago jazz clubs, their home turf in that era. 35 minutes, black and white. Brought to us by Atavistic's Unheard Music Series, who continue to earn the gratitude of jazz-heads everywhere.
SUN RA & HIS SOLAR ARKESTRA Horizon (Art Yard) cd 21.00
Sun Ra live in Egypt...It doesn't get more epic or mystical then that!
"The Shadow World" MPEG Stream:
"Space Is The Place" MPEG Stream:
"The Satellites Are Spi..."
SUN RA & HIS SOLAR ARKESTRA Secrets Of The Sun (Atavistic) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We have to hand it to Atavistic, it's undeniable that the vaults containing Sun Ra's recordings from his long and strange brilliant career must be so vast and daunting, it's amazing what an incredible job they've done over the last few years mining so much of the best and most diverse output of this free jazz master. Secrets Of The Sun was a really important and transitional Sun Ra album as it was recorded in New York shortly after Sun Ra and some of his Arkestra made the move to the Big Apple from Chicago. It has traces of the bebop and exotica of early Sun Ra yet the more out and freewheeling side of Sun Ra clearly makes its presence felt at times, this is truly one of those Sun Ra records that strikes a perfect balance between melody and chaos. In fact Secrets Of The Sun is a really great and colorful jazz record that those who are often scared away by the skronky side of free jazz might want to check out. It's not without it's freakout moments for sure, and it's pretty amazing to think this was recorded in 1961 and still sounds way more intense and out then most No Wave or Noise bands today! With a sound partially Earthbound, and partially drifting way out into the depths of outer space, Secrets Of The Sun is an awesome snapshot of Sun Ra on his way from one world to another while still managing to be forever ahead of his time.
"Friendly Galaxy" MPEG Stream:
"Space Aura" MPEG Stream: