Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Sun Ra - Box Set Vol.2 - Outer Spaceways Incorporated

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  • Published on Friday, 29 November 2013 14:20
  • Written by Super User
  • Hits: 169

Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Somewhere There - 14.54
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Outer Spaceways Incorporated - 7.14
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Intergalactic Motion - 8.07
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Saturn - 6.08
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Song Of The Sparer - 4.22
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Spontaneous Simplicity - 7.56
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Island In The Sun - 5.23
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - The Invisible Shield , Janus - 12.44
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Velvet - 7.22
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Joy - 9.15
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Can This Be Love - 6.00
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Sometimes I'm Happy - 6.45
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Time After Time - 3.30
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Easy To Love - 3.27
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - Sunnysude Up - 3.34
Sun Ra, Box Set Vol.2 - But Not For Me - 6.42


LOUTER SPACEWAYS INCORPORATED (disc 1) (Previously Released As BL 760191) "Instruction to the peoples of earth: You must realize that you have the right to love beauty. You must prepare to live life to the fullest extent. Of course it takes imagination, but you don't have to be an educated person to have that. Imagination can teach you the true meaning of pleasures. Listening can be one of the greatest of pleasures. You must learn to listen, because by listening you will learn to see with your mind's eye. You see, music paints pictures that only the mind's eye can see. Open your ears so that you can see with the eye of the mind." This statement by Sun Ra accompanied the first recording made of this music in 1956. Then as now his music was exceptional, and one could write at length about the artistic mastery and originality he has shown in thirty albums over the last fifteen years, and his towering importance as a composer for improvisers. Then as now, however, Sun Ra's words made it clear that he was not essentially concerned with music as such, but with using it as a means to communicate insight and understanding. Ever since he founded the Arkestra, musicians have looked up to him as a teacher and have come to him for guidance. Some have dedicated themselves completely to his music and his philosophy and (whether for only a few months or, as with men like John Gilmore and Pat Patrick, for over fifteen years) joined the Arkestra, an ensemble which is also a tribal community of which he is both chief and prophet. Through their work, his musical influence is shown in much free jazz, as well as more commercial groups such as the Mothers of Inventions and Pink Floyd. But, spiritually, he has exerted a, perhaps, even wider influence, not only through members of the Arkestra, but through many other musicians, such as John Coltrane, who have sought his guidance in this sphere alone. For many years Sun Ra was the ONLY artist in jazz or popular music who spoke of spiritual matters, the ONLY artist whose work was intended to express a deeper meaning. Now that others like Coltrane and George Harrison have started trying to follow his example, this aspect of his achievement becomes more strikingly significant with every year. Sun Ra calls his music 'Space Music' or 'Intergalactic Music'. His fundamental idea is that man is not the center of creation, but a mere speck in an endless universe. (This insight is, of course, neither very new nor very startling, yet countless generations of religious and scientific thinkers have failed to persuade man to accept its implications.) Since this is its subject, the music naturally transcends simple human emotions and forms, and portrays larger and more complex realities. Although Sun Ra's compositions emphasize earthly rich textures and forceful improvising, the resulting feeling is of humility and selflessness Ð the musicians are not expressing their egos or his, but giving a portrait of the All in which man is such an insignificant part. Sun Ra's own words: "I'm actually painting pictures of infinity with my music, and that's why a lot of people can't understand it. But if they'd listen to this and to other types of music, they'll find that mine has something else in it, something from another world." The effect on man of seeing himself in his true perspective should be liberating: "When a person begins to see and feel his insignificance, then he can see his worth and worthlessness and see that sometimes worthlessness and valuelessness and pricelessness are synonyms on another plane of understanding." This attitude will help him face and grasp new aspects of reality: "Intergalactic music concerns the music of galaxies. It concerns intergalactic thought and intergalactic travel, so it is really outside the realms of the future on the turning points of the impossible. But it is still existent, as astronomy testifies." Finally, the purpose is to enrich our lives on this planet: "The real aim of this music is to coordinate the minds of people into an intelligent reach for a better world, and an intelligent approach to the living future." By now it will be clear that, although his interests appear not to be of this world, Sun Ra's real goal is to help humanity. In fact, he feels this must be the goal of all worthwhile music: "A sound music is to build sound bodies, sound minds and sound hearts." But unlike the average reforming idealist Ð not to mention those he wants to reform Ð Sun Ra has no illusions about humanity. Doubly an outcast, as an artist-philosopher in a materialistic society and as a black man in a white society, he has seen us for what we are. He once stated he would welcome the destruction of white civilization, "Because it has never done anything for me but try to stop me, try to make my so-called life ugly like the rest of black people... When people try to destroy the kindness and love in a person, they deserve the cruelest dimensions the Creator can cast upon them." As for the black race: "I couldn't approach black people with the truth because they like lies. They live lies. They say, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.', but I don't see them doing that... If you can see me playing before black folks, you'll see they're uncomfortable because I'm beauty and they're ugly." His biggest hope is in the hippies and the colleges, "Because this natural instinct tells them, 'You have got to go another way'... It's a good sign for a race when you have some people who really recognize that. You haven't had that too much in the black race.'" This is the audience he is now reaching, both in the United States and in his highly successful concerts in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Holland. Sun Ra reaches the young audience because, although his music does transcend simple human emotions and forms, at the same time it is utterly rooted in them. The hundreds of students who surged towards the Arkestra at Liverpool University and joined in with stamping and clapping and chants of "Ra, Ra, Ra" testified to the fact that the music draws its strength from traditions of the most basic and universal appeal. The central source is black music, which, in rock, jazz, blues and their derivatives, is a common musical language for the whole Western world. At live performances, it can seem we are being shown a panorama of the complete range and achievements of black music - not to mention the costumes and movements and projections, and the many other musical areas explored - so wide is the variety of forms and so strong is the authority with which they are presented. A single album gives only a very limited idea of the full scope, but even so it is clearly suggested in the enclosed concert recording. Take the warmth of the flute and Latin American rhythm on Spontaneous Simplicity, for instance, and compare it with the gravely lyrical Song of the Sparer, or the violently free alto and colorful drum solos on Somewhere There. Or take Saturn, a more conventional big band piece with its fine tenor solo by John Gilmore in his style of the 1950s, when he so greatly influenced the playing of John Coltrane. Finally, for conclusive proof of Sun Ra's powerful handling of very contrasting materials, take Outer Spaceways. His own spavined piano and the carefully controlled clanking dissonance of the horns are at once impressively advanced and complex musical statements and a convincing interpretation of the subject of the piece. Yet alongside these elements we find the Arkestra performing a chant of such timeless simplicity that it can only be called pre-musical. Sun Ra means to reach every man. Ñ Victor Schonfield (1971) **** ----------------------------------------------------------------------*** JANUS (disc 2) (Released Also As 24 Bit Master - JG 9012) Sun Ra's recordings often blended performances in different styles from diverse periods in the Arkestra's development. The Ra carefully selected and edited the performances to fit his vision. While band members who fell out of favor might find their solos disappearing from released performances, Sunny could also put his tape-splicing skills to more constructive uses, shaping a directed improvisation like The Magic City into something lasting and unrepeatable. Sun Ra must have planned Janus as an entity in 1970 or 1971. But it was never released on LP. The first three tracks eventually appeared on one side of some obscure Saturn LP pressings; the last two are just now being issued, allowing us to hear Sun Ra's original conception for the first time. Island in the Sun is one of those relaxed, flowing compositions with mildly exotic rhythms that are much beloved by Ra fans. The Arkestra still played it in public in the 1980s, though not nearly as often as Carefree or Friendly Galaxy; today, as Islands in Space, it remains in the repertoire of Arkestral alumnus Michael Ray and his Cosmic Krewe. The swaying winds are Marshall Allen's liquid flute and Danny Davis' warm, woody alto clarinet. There are solos for Sunny's piano and Marshall's flute before the ensemble returns. The recording appears to have been made between 1968 and 1970. The Invisible Shield, which shows off Sunny's recently acquired Mini-Moog synthesizer, is the Arkestra's latest contribution to the album. A directed improvisation that was almost certainly recorded live, it opens with fierce chatter from Marshall Allen's alto saxophone. Sun Ra encouraged Arkestra members to build hybrid noisemakers, to which he attributed extraterrestrial origins; the off- stage grumbling emanates from the Neptunian libflecto, a modified bassoon with a French horn mouthpiece. Sunny's solo, on two keyboards at once, is fierce enough to ward off charged solar particles or predatory space invaders, whichever might be the bigger threat. Janus is a compilation of two performances; on the master tape, it follows The Invisible Shield without a break. A transitional passage of banging sounds (deliberately distorted gongs, low Clavinet tones, or both) was probably recorded around 1968; it leads into the earliest performance on the CD. The bowed bass, cosmic side drums, and washes of analog reverb point to Sunny's psychedelic year, 1963. Sunny's goal was to evoke African ancestors; before the session, he exhorted singer Art Jenkins, "What about your African influence? What can you sing about Africa? Just being black Ð black is a color, like green is a color." Jenkins was prepared: "This time, my spirit took me back to Africa. And it was like in a dreamworld sense, but I was back in my African village, with African musicians, singers, and dancers. It was like, 'It's your time to sing.' One singer moves to the next singer, and so forth, just like the (universal) voice moves." Another tape edit allows the piece to end quietly, with bells. The second half of this recording consists of two titles from the same concert, probably in early 1968. Sunny drew on a cache of live tapes from this period to put together Outer Spaceways Incorporated and Spaceways, but Velvet and Joy were made at a different concert that was not used on those two CDs. Velvet, a hard-bop composition, goes back to the Arkestra's earliest days in Chicago; the Arkestra had recorded it in 1958 and again in 1960. In the late 1960s, the Arkestra wasn't playing the piece all that regularly, as the rough-and- ready ensemble testify. We do get a tremendous earth-moving solo from Pat Patrick's baritone sax, and an unusual feature for the French horn of Robert Northern, as well as a pithy piano solo by The Ra. Joy is another directed improvisation: Ra's piano clusters urge the ensemble to freak out, there is a scalding improvisation by Danny Davis on alto sax, then the upper reaches of Ra's Clavioline inspire a more ethereal response from the horns. In the mid and late 1960s, Sun Ra would often quote a familiar composition as a theme just at the beginning or end of a series of free improvisations. The final 3 minutes of Joy could be more free improv., or they could move into the theme of El Is a Sound of Joy or possibly another Sun Ra tune like Tapestry from an Asteroid. (When the words to this composition are sung, the last two words are "space joy".) In all, Janus is a well-programmed sampler of Sun Ra's art as it stood between 1963 and 1970. It is fitting to dedicate it to a man of many talents who left the planet earlier this year. Tommy "Bugs" Hunter (1927-1999) never got his due as a musician, because so often in the early 1960s he was at the tape recorder instead of behind his drum kit. Without Bugs, however, and the old Ampex that he found in a pawnshop, we would not have Janus, and we would not have many of Sun Ra's other path-breaking recordings from the 1960s. Ð Robert L. Campbell Co-author (with Chris Trent) of The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra 2nd edition, Cadence Jazz Books, 1999 **** ----------------------------------------------------------------------*** STANDARDS (disc 3) (Released Also As 24 Bit Master - JG 9019) Sun Ra (1914-1993) had a healthy regard for the jazz tradition. Anyone who heard his Arkestra from the mid-1970s onward knows that Fletcher Henderson numbers from the 1930s like Yeah Man! and King Porter Stomp, with arrangements (and sometimes solos) transcribed right off the records, were featured nightly. But Sunny and the Arkestra were playing and recording jazz standards well before this time. It's just that Sun Ra wanted his Saturn records, which he and Alton Abraham were putting out independently at considerable expense, to feature his own compositions first. Consequently, Sun Ra did not release any of his performances of standards until 1972, by which time some of them were more than a decade old. Can This Be Love? is a duet recorded in Sunny's Chicago apartment during the days when, after experimenting for a few years with various-sized ensembles to play his experimental music, he was putting his Arkestra together. His partner is the famous Chicago bassist Wilbur Ware (1922 - 1979), for whom Sunny always had a high regard (in 1973, when everyone involved had relocated to Philadelphia, Ware visited the House of Ra on Morton Street and jammed with members of the Arkestra in a performance that is preserved on tape). Ra plays pretty, and Ware gets in a substantial solo. The other selections on this CD come from Ra's musically fertile but financially disappointing early years in New York City (the Arkestra had wound up there in October 1961 after a few months in Montreal). With the help of drummer Tommy Hunter (1927-1999), who also engineered these sessions on his battered Ampex tape machine, Sunny and the band found a reliable rehearsal space at the Choreographers Workshop; from late 1961 through 1964, the rehearsal rooms also served them as an informal recording venue. Until the beginning of 1966, live performance opportunities for an avant-garde ensemble like the Arkestra were terribly sparse, and calls from other record companies were nonexistent, so these sessions became Ra's main opportunity to preserve his music. Sunny still enjoyed programming standards, though, and several of the sessions at the Choreographers Workshop were given over to them. Sometimes I'm Happy was made toward the end of 1962 or the beginning of 1963, during a highly productive period for the Arkestra. Sometimes I'm Happy was probably made at the same session as some of the wilder fare for which Sunny was known (perhaps When Sun Comes Out). Here, though, Sunny just wanted to relax and play a favorite tune. After Sunny's unaccompanied, rubato-laden prelude, the piece belongs to John Gilmore (1931-1995). John's tenor saxophone solo is a lyrical tribute to his first idol, Lester Young, who memorably recorded Sometimes I'm Happy for Keynote in 1943. The drumming sounds like the work of Lex Humphries (1934-1990), a Philadelphia-based musician who occasionally participated in the Arkestra from 1962 to 1971. Sunny and the Arkestra would record Sometimes I'm Happy again in 1982, with a vocal by June Tyson and another classic solo from John. The other four standards all stem from another session that took place during the same period. Sun Ra had left several excellent trumpet players back in Chicago when he arrived in New York, and he had trouble finding replacements. While brass players of the caliber of Al Evans, Eddie Gale, and Clifford Thornton appear on Arkestra recordings from 1962, none of them were available on a regular basis. But toward the end of the year an unexpected opportunity arose. A musician from Sunny's home town, Walter Miller (1917- ), took a job with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra that frequently brought him to New York City between 1962 and 1966. Sunny couldn't pretend to be from Saturn when Walter Miller was around; they had both attended Industrial High School in Birmingham, Alabama. What's more, both had worked in bands led by local music mentor John T. "Fess" Whatley, and Walter Miller had played trumpet in the Sonny Blount Orchestra (he was in the last edition of this Swing band, which broke up in January 1946 when Sunny bought a one-way train ticket to Chicago). Miller was listening carefully to musical developments in the 1940s, and came to model his approach on the bebop acrobatics of his exact contemporary, Dizzy Gillespie. But he had family obligations that prevented him from leaving the Birmingham area, and by the early 1960s most Birmingham musicians knew him only as the pianist in a local bar. Realizing that Walter Miller had lost none of this trumpet technique, and that he was willing to push beyond bebop into regions farther out, Sun Ra scheduled recording dates whenever his favorite trumpet player was in town. The last four standards on this CD appear to have been recorded at the same session (judging from the sonics, the first version of Sunny's Dancing Shadows was cut on the same day). For the occasion, Sun Ra put together a quintet with Miller, Gilmore, stalwart bassist Ronnie Boykins (1932-1980), and drumming phenom Clifford Jarvis (1942-1999). This was also Jarvis's first recording with the Arkestra; recognizing his musical gifts, especially his ability to supply rhythmic inspiration to John Gilmore, Sun Ra would put up with the drummer's massive ego and combative attitudes for many years. The lineup that Sunny had assembled for this session would, in fact, have been entirely competitive on one of the bigger jazz record labels of the time, had Sunny been interested in going that route. Time after Time is played quite a bit more briskly than usual; it gets characteristic Ra arrangements for the opening statement and the out-chorus. Walter Miller is the soloist, and Clifford Jarvis gives a drum clinic in his support. The Arkestra would re-record Time after Time in 1990. Easy to Love features John Gilmore, whose solo is full of reminders that the impossible leaps of Dancing Shadows were committed to tape that same day. The out-chorus includes a wispy trumpet commentary by Walter Miller. For reasons unknown, Ra rarely programmed this tune again. Ra was naturally partial to titles that made reference to the sun Ð or to other heavenly bodies. He had included the perky Keep Your Sunny Side Up on a June 1960 session in Chicago and would feature it again on a live recording from 1974. At this fast tempo, Jarvis opens; there is a tight chorus featuring Gilmore and Miller; then solos by John Gilmore, Ronnie Boykins, Gilmore again, and Walter Miller. But Not for Me is a previously unknown version of a piece that Sun Ra featured for years. (He used to complain in interviews that Ahmad Jamal's hit version from 1958 was stolen from him Ð not at all plausibly, if you compare Jamal's piano stylings to any of Ra's). His first recording of the piece had been done two years earlier in Chicago, on the same session as his first version of Keep Your Sunny Side Up; the 1960 rendition uses a bigger front line and a quite different arrangement. He would record But Not for Me again in 1986, though the released version is a pale shadow of some of the live performances from that year. Here Sunny solos on piano after the opening chorus (in the somewhat drier manner typical of his early New York period), there are solos by John Gilmore and Walter Miller, then after a quick interlude for the piano, we get some honest-to-goodness trades: between Gilmore and Jarvis, between Miller and Jarvis, between Gilmore and Miller, etc., before the nicely arranged out-chorus. Trades were widely employed during the bebop era, and not much favored by Sun Ra, but one of the great live performances of But Not for Me (from Dayton, Ohio, February 9, 1986) features tenor sax trades between John Gilmore and Ronald Wilson Ð maybe in unconscious homage to this 1962 recording? Now that we're entering the 21st century and so much of Sun Ra's legacy is on CD, there's no longer any reason to fear that Sun Ra's distinctive renditions of standards will induce anyone to ignore his huge portfolio of original compositions. Nowadays, performances like these can be equally enjoyed by hard-core Ra aficionados and lovers of more traditional jazz. Ð Robert L. Campbell Co-author (with Chris Trent) of The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra 2nd edition, Cadence Jazz Books, 1999 OUTER SPACEWAYS INCORPORATED (disc 1) (Previously Released As BL 760191) "Instruction to the peoples of earth: You must realize that you have the right to love beauty. You must prepare to live life to the fullest extent. Of course it takes imagination, but you don't have to be an educated person to have that. Imagination can teach you the true meaning of pleasures. Listening can be one of the greatest of pleasures. You must learn to listen, because by listening you will learn to see with your mind's eye. You see, music paints pictures that only the mind's eye can see. Open your ears so that you can see with the eye of the mind." This statement by Sun Ra accompanied the first recording made of this music in 1956. Then as now his music was exceptional, and one could write at length about the artistic mastery and originality he has shown in thirty albums over the last fifteen years, and his towering importance as a composer for improvisers. Then as now, however, Sun Ra's words made it clear that he was not essentially concerned with music as such, but with using it as a means to communicate insight and understanding. Ever since he founded the Arkestra, musicians have looked up to him as a teacher and have come to him for guidance. Some have dedicated themselves completely to his music and his philosophy and (whether for only a few months or, as with men like John Gilmore and Pat Patrick, for over fifteen years) joined the Arkestra, an ensemble which is also a tribal community of which he is both chief and prophet. Through their work, his musical influence is shown in much free jazz, as well as more commercial groups such as the Mothers of Inventions and Pink Floyd. But, spiritually, he has exerted a, perhaps, even wider influence, not only through members of the Arkestra, but through many other musicians, such as John Coltrane, who have sought his guidance in this sphere alone. For many years Sun Ra was the ONLY artist in jazz or popular music who spoke of spiritual matters, the ONLY artist whose work was intended to express a deeper meaning. Now that others like Coltrane and George Harrison have started trying to follow his example, this aspect of his achievement becomes more strikingly significant with every year. Sun Ra calls his music 'Space Music' or 'Intergalactic Music'. His fundamental idea is that man is not the center of creation, but a mere speck in an endless universe. (This insight is, of course, neither very new nor very startling, yet countless generations of religious and scientific thinkers have failed to persuade man to accept its implications.) Since this is its subject, the music naturally transcends simple human emotions and forms, and portrays larger and more complex realities. Although Sun Ra's compositions emphasize earthly rich textures and forceful improvising, the resulting feeling is of humility and selflessness Ð the musicians are not expressing their egos or his, but giving a portrait of the All in which man is such an insignificant part. Sun Ra's own words: "I'm actually painting pictures of infinity with my music, and that's why a lot of people can't understand it. But if they'd listen to this and to other types of music, they'll find that mine has something else in it, something from another world." The effect on man of seeing himself in his true perspective should be liberating: "When a person begins to see and feel his insignificance, then he can see his worth and worthlessness and see that sometimes worthlessness and valuelessness and pricelessness are synonyms on another plane of understanding." This attitude will help him face and grasp new aspects of reality: "Intergalactic music concerns the music of galaxies. It concerns intergalactic thought and intergalactic travel, so it is really outside the realms of the future on the turning points of the impossible. But it is still existent, as astronomy testifies." Finally, the purpose is to enrich our lives on this planet: "The real aim of this music is to coordinate the minds of people into an intelligent reach for a better world, and an intelligent approach to the living future." By now it will be clear that, although his interests appear not to be of this world, Sun Ra's real goal is to help humanity. In fact, he feels this must be the goal of all worthwhile music: "A sound music is to build sound bodies, sound minds and sound hearts." But unlike the average reforming idealist Ð not to mention those he wants to reform Ð Sun Ra has no illusions about humanity. Doubly an outcast, as an artist-philosopher in a materialistic society and as a black man in a white society, he has seen us for what we are. He once stated he would welcome the destruction of white civilization, "Because it has never done anything for me but try to stop me, try to make my so-called life ugly like the rest of black people... When people try to destroy the kindness and love in a person, they deserve the cruelest dimensions the Creator can cast upon them." As for the black race: "I couldn't approach black people with the truth because they like lies. They live lies. They say, 'Love thy neighbor as thyself.', but I don't see them doing that... If you can see me playing before black folks, you'll see they're uncomfortable because I'm beauty and they're ugly." His biggest hope is in the hippies and the colleges, "Because this natural instinct tells them, 'You have got to go another way'... It's a good sign for a race when you have some people who really recognize that. You haven't had that too much in the black race.'" This is the audience he is now reaching, both in the United States and in his highly successful concerts in Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Holland. Sun Ra reaches the young audience because, although his music does transcend simple human emotions and forms, at the same time it is utterly rooted in them. The hundreds of students who surged towards the Arkestra at Liverpool University and joined in with stamping and clapping and chants of "Ra, Ra, Ra" testified to the fact that the music draws its strength from traditions of the most basic and universal appeal. The central source is black music, which, in rock, jazz, blues and their derivatives, is a common musical language for the whole Western world. At live performances, it can seem we are being shown a panorama of the complete range and achievements of black music - not to mention the costumes and movements and projections, and the many other musical areas explored - so wide is the variety of forms and so strong is the authority with which they are presented. A single album gives only a very limited idea of the full scope, but even so it is clearly suggested in the enclosed concert recording. Take the warmth of the flute and Latin American rhythm on Spontaneous Simplicity, for instance, and compare it with the gravely lyrical Song of the Sparer, or the violently free alto and colorful drum solos on Somewhere There. Or take Saturn, a more conventional big band piece with its fine tenor solo by John Gilmore in his style of the 1950s, when he so greatly influenced the playing of John Coltrane. Finally, for conclusive proof of Sun Ra's powerful handling of very contrasting materials, take Outer Spaceways. His own spavined piano and the carefully controlled clanking dissonance of the horns are at once impressively advanced and complex musical statements and a convincing interpretation of the subject of the piece. Yet alongside these elements we find the Arkestra performing a chant of such timeless simplicity that it can only be called pre-musical. Sun Ra means to reach every man. Ñ Victor Schonfield (1971) **** ----------------------------------------------------------------------*** JANUS (disc 2) (Released Also As 24 Bit Master - JG 9012) Sun Ra's recordings often blended performances in different styles from diverse periods in the Arkestra's development. The Ra carefully selected and edited the performances to fit his vision. While band members who fell out of favor might find their solos disappearing from released performances, Sunny could also put his tape-splicing skills to more constructive uses, shaping a directed improvisation like The Magic City into something lasting and unrepeatable. Sun Ra must have planned Janus as an entity in 1970 or 1971. But it was never released on LP. The first three tracks eventually appeared on one side of some obscure Saturn LP pressings; the last two are just now being issued, allowing us to hear Sun Ra's original conception for the first time. Island in the Sun is one of those relaxed, flowing compositions with mildly exotic rhythms that are much beloved by Ra fans. The Arkestra still played it in public in the 1980s, though not nearly as often as Carefree or Friendly Galaxy; today, as Islands in Space, it remains in the repertoire of Arkestral alumnus Michael Ray and his Cosmic Krewe. The swaying winds are Marshall Allen's liquid flute and Danny Davis' warm, woody alto clarinet. There are solos for Sunny's piano and Marshall's flute before the ensemble returns. The recording appears to have been made between 1968 and 1970. The Invisible Shield, which shows off Sunny's recently acquired Mini-Moog synthesizer, is the Arkestra's latest contribution to the album. A directed improvisation that was almost certainly recorded live, it opens with fierce chatter from Marshall Allen's alto saxophone. Sun Ra encouraged Arkestra members to build hybrid noisemakers, to which he attributed extraterrestrial origins; the off- stage grumbling emanates from the Neptunian libflecto, a modified bassoon with a French horn mouthpiece. Sunny's solo, on two keyboards at once, is fierce enough to ward off charged solar particles or predatory space invaders, whichever might be the bigger threat. Janus is a compilation of two performances; on the master tape, it follows The Invisible Shield without a break. A transitional passage of banging sounds (deliberately distorted gongs, low Clavinet tones, or both) was probably recorded around 1968; it leads into the earliest performance on the CD. The bowed bass, cosmic side drums, and washes of analog reverb point to Sunny's psychedelic year, 1963. Sunny's goal was to evoke African ancestors; before the session, he exhorted singer Art Jenkins, "What about your African influence? What can you sing about Africa? Just being black Ð black is a color, like green is a color." Jenkins was prepared: "This time, my spirit took me back to Africa. And it was like in a dreamworld sense, but I was back in my African village, with African musicians, singers, and dancers. It was like, 'It's your time to sing.' One singer moves to the next singer, and so forth, just like the (universal) voice moves." Another tape edit allows the piece to end quietly, with bells. The second half of this recording consists of two titles from the same concert, probably in early 1968. Sunny drew on a cache of live tapes from this period to put together Outer Spaceways Incorporated and Spaceways, but Velvet and Joy were made at a different concert that was not used on those two CDs. Velvet, a hard-bop composition, goes back to the Arkestra's earliest days in Chicago; the Arkestra had recorded it in 1958 and again in 1960. In the late 1960s, the Arkestra wasn't playing the piece all that regularly, as the rough-and- ready ensemble testify. We do get a tremendous earth-moving solo from Pat Patrick's baritone sax, and an unusual feature for the French horn of Robert Northern, as well as a pithy piano solo by The Ra. Joy is another directed improvisation: Ra's piano clusters urge the ensemble to freak out, there is a scalding improvisation by Danny Davis on alto sax, then the upper reaches of Ra's Clavioline inspire a more ethereal response from the horns. In the mid and late 1960s, Sun Ra would often quote a familiar composition as a theme just at the beginning or end of a series of free improvisations. The final 3 minutes of Joy could be more free improv., or they could move into the theme of El Is a Sound of Joy or possibly another Sun Ra tune like Tapestry from an Asteroid. (When the words to this composition are sung, the last two words are "space joy".) In all, Janus is a well-programmed sampler of Sun Ra's art as it stood between 1963 and 1970. It is fitting to dedicate it to a man of many talents who left the planet earlier this year. Tommy "Bugs" Hunter (1927-1999) never got his due as a musician, because so often in the early 1960s he was at the tape recorder instead of behind his drum kit. Without Bugs, however, and the old Ampex that he found in a pawnshop, we would not have Janus, and we would not have many of Sun Ra's other path-breaking recordings from the 1960s. Ð Robert L. Campbell Co-author (with Chris Trent) of The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra 2nd edition, Cadence Jazz Books, 1999 **** ----------------------------------------------------------------------*** STANDARDS (disc 3) (Released Also As 24 Bit Master - JG 9019) Sun Ra (1914-1993) had a healthy regard for the jazz tradition. Anyone who heard his Arkestra from the mid-1970s onward knows that Fletcher Henderson numbers from the 1930s like Yeah Man! and King Porter Stomp, with arrangements (and sometimes solos) transcribed right off the records, were featured nightly. But Sunny and the Arkestra were playing and recording jazz standards well before this time. It's just that Sun Ra wanted his Saturn records, which he and Alton Abraham were putting out independently at considerable expense, to feature his own compositions first. Consequently, Sun Ra did not release any of his performances of standards until 1972, by which time some of them were more than a decade old. Can This Be Love? is a duet recorded in Sunny's Chicago apartment during the days when, after experimenting for a few years with various-sized ensembles to play his experimental music, he was putting his Arkestra together. His partner is the famous Chicago bassist Wilbur Ware (1922 - 1979), for whom Sunny always had a high regard (in 1973, when everyone involved had relocated to Philadelphia, Ware visited the House of Ra on Morton Street and jammed with members of the Arkestra in a performance that is preserved on tape). Ra plays pretty, and Ware gets in a substantial solo. The other selections on this CD come from Ra's musically fertile but financially disappointing early years in New York City (the Arkestra had wound up there in October 1961 after a few months in Montreal). With the help of drummer Tommy Hunter (1927-1999), who also engineered these sessions on his battered Ampex tape machine, Sunny and the band found a reliable rehearsal space at the Choreographers Workshop; from late 1961 through 1964, the rehearsal rooms also served them as an informal recording venue. Until the beginning of 1966, live performance opportunities for an avant-garde ensemble like the Arkestra were terribly sparse, and calls from other record companies were nonexistent, so these sessions became Ra's main opportunity to preserve his music. Sunny still enjoyed programming standards, though, and several of the sessions at the Choreographers Workshop were given over to them. Sometimes I'm Happy was made toward the end of 1962 or the beginning of 1963, during a highly productive period for the Arkestra. Sometimes I'm Happy was probably made at the same session as some of the wilder fare for which Sunny was known (perhaps When Sun Comes Out). Here, though, Sunny just wanted to relax and play a favorite tune. After Sunny's unaccompanied, rubato-laden prelude, the piece belongs to John Gilmore (1931-1995). John's tenor saxophone solo is a lyrical tribute to his first idol, Lester Young, who memorably recorded Sometimes I'm Happy for Keynote in 1943. The drumming sounds like the work of Lex Humphries (1934-1990), a Philadelphia-based musician who occasionally participated in the Arkestra from 1962 to 1971. Sunny and the Arkestra would record Sometimes I'm Happy again in 1982, with a vocal by June Tyson and another classic solo from John. The other four standards all stem from another session that took place during the same period. Sun Ra had left several excellent trumpet players back in Chicago when he arrived in New York, and he had trouble finding replacements. While brass players of the caliber of Al Evans, Eddie Gale, and Clifford Thornton appear on Arkestra recordings from 1962, none of them were available on a regular basis. But toward the end of the year an unexpected opportunity arose. A musician from Sunny's home town, Walter Miller (1917- ), took a job with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra that frequently brought him to New York City between 1962 and 1966. Sunny couldn't pretend to be from Saturn when Walter Miller was around; they had both attended Industrial High School in Birmingham, Alabama. What's more, both had worked in bands led by local music mentor John T. "Fess" Whatley, and Walter Miller had played trumpet in the Sonny Blount Orchestra (he was in the last edition of this Swing band, which broke up in January 1946 when Sunny bought a one-way train ticket to Chicago). Miller was listening carefully to musical developments in the 1940s, and came to model his approach on the bebop acrobatics of his exact contemporary, Dizzy Gillespie. But he had family obligations that prevented him from leaving the Birmingham area, and by the early 1960s most Birmingham musicians knew him only as the pianist in a local bar. Realizing that Walter Miller had lost none of this trumpet technique, and that he was willing to push beyond bebop into regions farther out, Sun Ra scheduled recording dates whenever his favorite trumpet player was in town. The last four standards on this CD appear to have been recorded at the same session (judging from the sonics, the first version of Sunny's Dancing Shadows was cut on the same day). For the occasion, Sun Ra put together a quintet with Miller, Gilmore, stalwart bassist Ronnie Boykins (1932-1980), and drumming phenom Clifford Jarvis (1942-1999). This was also Jarvis's first recording with the Arkestra; recognizing his musical gifts, especially his ability to supply rhythmic inspiration to John Gilmore, Sun Ra would put up with the drummer's massive ego and combative attitudes for many years. The lineup that Sunny had assembled for this session would, in fact, have been entirely competitive on one of the bigger jazz record labels of the time, had Sunny been interested in going that route. Time after Time is played quite a bit more briskly than usual; it gets characteristic Ra arrangements for the opening statement and the out-chorus. Walter Miller is the soloist, and Clifford Jarvis gives a drum clinic in his support. The Arkestra would re-record Time after Time in 1990. Easy to Love features John Gilmore, whose solo is full of reminders that the impossible leaps of Dancing Shadows were committed to tape that same day. The out-chorus includes a wispy trumpet commentary by Walter Miller. For reasons unknown, Ra rarely programmed this tune again. Ra was naturally partial to titles that made reference to the sun Ð or to other heavenly bodies. He had included the perky Keep Your Sunny Side Up on a June 1960 session in Chicago and would feature it again on a live recording from 1974. At this fast tempo, Jarvis opens; there is a tight chorus featuring Gilmore and Miller; then solos by John Gilmore, Ronnie Boykins, Gilmore again, and Walter Miller. But Not for Me is a previously unknown version of a piece that Sun Ra featured for years. (He used to complain in interviews that Ahmad Jamal's hit version from 1958 was stolen from him Ð not at all plausibly, if you compare Jamal's piano stylings to any of Ra's). His first recording of the piece had been done two years earlier in Chicago, on the same session as his first version of Keep Your Sunny Side Up; the 1960 rendition uses a bigger front line and a quite different arrangement. He would record But Not for Me again in 1986, though the released version is a pale shadow of some of the live performances from that year. Here Sunny solos on piano after the opening chorus (in the somewhat drier manner typical of his early New York period), there are solos by John Gilmore and Walter Miller, then after a quick interlude for the piano, we get some honest-to-goodness trades: between Gilmore and Jarvis, between Miller and Jarvis, between Gilmore and Miller, etc., before the nicely arranged out-chorus. Trades were widely employed during the bebop era, and not much favored by Sun Ra, but one of the great live performances of But Not for Me (from Dayton, Ohio, February 9, 1986) features tenor sax trades between John Gilmore and Ronald Wilson Ð maybe in unconscious homage to this 1962 recording? Now that we're entering the 21st century and so much of Sun Ra's legacy is on CD, there's no longer any reason to fear that Sun Ra's distinctive renditions of standards will induce anyone to ignore his huge portfolio of original compositions. Nowadays, performances like these can be equally enjoyed by hard-core Ra aficionados and lovers of more traditional jazz. Ð Robert L. Campbell Co-author (with Chris Trent) of The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra 2nd edition, Cadence Jazz Books, 1999 m.

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