Sun Ra: The Eternal Myth Revealed Vol. 1
I'm starting things off with a look into a document that embodies the great American pioneering spirit. I hope this sets the tone for a look into some very rewarding music that doesn't get its fair consideration. Thanks.
The Eternal Myth Revealed Vol. 1
Growing up in Philadelphia in the punk rock era as I did, my teen years were strangely informed by Sun Ra and his Arkestra. They lived in the Germantown section of town, together in a house on Morton Street, kind of a cosmic free jazz version of The Monkees or something. I lived around the corner from that house during the spring months ofI think1985, and they seemed to rehearse all the time. Their music was literally in the air for me. And the annual Sun Ra Halloween shows at Grendel's Lair were epic, legendary events.
Over the years, I've worked with musicians who either worked closely with Ra and the Arkestra (singer and guitarist Phil Alvin, keyboardist Terry Adams}, or I've played with Arkestra members (saxophonist Knoell Scott, trombonist Tyrone Hill). They all spoke of Ra with intense respect and wonderment. But few people knew enough to comment on Sun Ra's immense recorded legacy. Tom Ardolino, drummer from NRBQ, was the first guy I knew who had all the records dating back to Ra's self-released singles from the 1950s on the Saturn label, and he started turning me onto that stuff in 1991 via his own compilation tapes. Five years later, Evidence put out its justly celebrated Sun Ra: The Singles double disc set. Doo wop, blues, hard bop, avant-gardeThe Singles did something few journalists had been able to do: it put Sun Ra squarely in a knowable traditional black music context.
Evidence really did a wonderful job of reissuing the bulk of the early Sun Ra albums, finally presenting Ra's music with clarity and continuity. It suddenly seemed as if his Duke Ellingtonian 1950s hard bop phase had been absorbed into the 1990s post modern jazz conscience. Ra went from being considered the marginalized big band wing of the 1960s avant-garde to deserved veneration as another Charles Mingus. I'm simplifying, but you get the point.
The Eternal Myth Revealed is a 14 disc docu-biography of Ra's life and career, from his birth in 1914 up to 1959. In addition to his own music, it includes music he was influenced by, and a lot of stuff he may or may not have had a hand in as arranger, vocal coach, pianist or something else. Sun Ra's output was as prolific as Ellington's, and discographers have had nightmares and arguments attempting to document it accurately. This mammoth box set will raise as many questions as it sets out to answer, and will no doubt inspire controversy in a few corners. It's 17 hours of history and music, and it's riveting. I listened to it over a weekend, in two seven disc stretches. Then I dumped a bunch of the music into my iTunes.
The auteur behind this landmark is Michael D. Anderson, whose knowledge of jazz, rhythm 'n' blues, blues, Latin music and other styles is pretty staggering. His archival command of pre-war jazz and blues makes me hopeful that he will write a book about this stuff. EMR strips away element by element that almost insulting view of Ra as a hodgepodge crackpot from out of nowhere. Moving between Anderson's own narration are threads of Ra's own recollections, with relevant comments from Ray Charles, Coleman Hawkins, Bobby Blue Bland and a few other heavyweights. A vivid portrait of a black music world transforming itself emerges, as does a clear picture of Ra as a musician living at the crossroads of his time, very much a thorough professional but also a restless experimenter and (to use Uri Caine's expression) checker-outter. Ra was singular but no fluke, and Anderson does a fantastic job of tying together the threads of his influences. He knows his subject deeply, and does not shy away from editorializing and speculating. The approach is bound to infuriate the more scholarly types, but it fits Ra very well.
Anderson's musical selectionsnot only of Ra's own music, but of the music from which Ra drew as well, are spotlessand his taste is impeccable. The choices he makes not only illustrate why Ra would have been enchanted and influenced, but why you should be. Luis Russell, Don Redman, Bennie Moten, John Kirby and others are represented by some truly exciting Jazz Age jazz.
According to Anderson, Clarence Williams was the first to record a Ra composition"Chocolate Street"in 1933. Williams did not credit the song's composer. Ra was then 18 or 19. His first LP as a leader was still 24 years away (Jazz By Sun Ra, Vol 1 on the short-lived Transition label), by which point he had cultivated his space-themed presentation, and "Chocolate Street" gives us a look at the seeds. The piece is properly Ellingtonian, and alsoas Anderson points outa close melodic cousin of Irving Berlin's "Coquette." "Chocolate Street" shows us Ra as a gifted creature of his time, if nearly interchangeable with any number of Ellingtons-in-training. Anderson presents music that Ra dug intoincluding John Kirby, Mary Lou Williams, Jimmie Lunceford and of course Fletcher Hendersonand we can hear the influences combining in a very apparent way. In the ensuing dozen years from "Chocolate Street," jazz was exploding, and Sun Ra was collecting the resultant sparks, flames and smoketheorizing, internalizing and developing a lot of music, even if he wasn't yet recording.
The first unrefuted appearance of Ra playing on record finds him backing the legendary blues shouter Wynonie Harris in 1946 on a session for the Bullet label, a Nashville indie. This same year Ra settled in Chicago for what would be a 15 year stay. Arguably, this was his most important period, and he was prolific.
Just how prolific? Well, this is where the arguments will likely pick up, because there is a lot of music included in the box that may or may not actually include Ra's participation. As Anderson himself notes in hundred-plus page book (whose pages are not numbered), "Most of the materials collected here were never discussed by Ra himself in later years; much here has depended on the memories of the engineers and musicians who played with Ra."
To my ears, some of this stuff doesn't have Ra's fingerprints on it. But a lot of it does. I'm speculating, but so is Anderson. It's of little consequence, because whether or not Ra was directly involved with every song on here, this is the music community in which he made his way during that time, and it does sound right together as a fully realized portrait of the time and place.
EMR is rife with fascinating prototypical jewels that are absolutely Raincluding a solo pipe organ session from 1948, early electric keyboard experiments, the Red Saunders stuff he arranged in 1953 (including cuts with vocalist Joe Williams), rhythm 'n' blues sessions, even recordings of Ra as jazz vocalist (he sounds something like Al Hibbler imitating Billie Holiday). It presents a clear and rounded picture of Ra as the consummate post-war black entertainment professional. There are early live recordings that are the important initial steps towards the Sun Ra we would come to know and very often love, culminating in a riveting 1958 live jam session that brings Ra together with no less than saxophonist Gene Ammons and trombonist Janice "Ms. JJ" Johnson. And of course, there is a generous sampling of those incredible Saturn recordings of the 1950s that established him as one of the most original and audacious big band leaders, pretty much ever.
As a document of Ra's life and musical world from 1914-59, EMR is a landmark, even a new take on the jazz biography. Except for Charles Mingus, who else could be examined in so sweeping a format? It's not really a trend waiting to catch on. And its $110 pricetag doesn't exactly encourage imitation. But it will invite speculation and touch off arguments while it stands as the definitive bio-document of this major artist. Cool.
(Postscript: a second volume is planned, which will pick up chronologically where this box leaves off and will cover Ra's work up to his death in 1993.)
Tracks: CD1: 1. NarrationProducer & Sun Ra Introduction Pt. 1; 02. NarrationProduction Introduction; 03. 4-22-58Message To Earth ManYochanan (The Space Age Vocalist); 04. NarrationProducer & Sun Ra Introduction Pt. 2; 05. NarrationRuth Brown Bobby Bland & Ray Charles InterviewsThe Meaning Of The Blues; 06. NarrationSun Ra InterviewHis Early Days In Alabama; 07. NarrationThe Early Blues Women 1924-1928; 08. 5-13-21Oh DaddyEthel Waters with Cordy Williams and his Jazz Masters; 09. 10-15-24Booze & BluesMa Rainey with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra; 10. 11-10-28Hole In The WallSarah Martin with the Clarence Williams Orchestra; 11. NarrationSun Ra InterviewHis First Piano / Leading The School Band; 12. NarrationThe Luis Russell Orchestra 1929; 13. 9-9-29Call Of The FreaksThe Luis Russell Orchestra; 14. NarrationThe Don Redman Orchestra; 15. 1-17-40Chant Of The WeedThe Don Redman Orchestra; 16. NarrationThe Early Jazz Band Influences; 17. 6-12-28Just RiteBennie Moten Orchestra; 18. 7-2-28Fat Man BluesTiny Parham & His Musicians; 19. 2-25-32Rhythm SpasmBaron Lee & The Mills Blue Rhythm Band; 20. NarrationThe Fletcher Henderson Influence Pt. 11931; 21. 1-9-31Blue RhythmThe Fletcher Henderson Orchestra; 22. 1-9-31Sugar Foot StompThe Fletcher Henderson Orchestra; 23. NarrationColeman Hawkins InterviewHawk Remembers Fletcher Henderson; 24. NarrationThe Clarence William Band Records Sun Ra Composition 1933; 25. 1-3-33Chocolate AvenueClarence Williams Orchestra; 26. NarrationThe John Kirby Sextet 1939; 27. 5-10-39Anitra's DanceThe John Kirby Sextet; 28. 5-10-39Opus #5The John Kirby Sextet; 29. NarrationThe Coleman Hawkins Orchestra Influence 1940; 30. 1940Chant Of The GrooveColeman Hawkins Orchestra "Live"; 31. NarrationSun Ra InterviewRemembers How Musicians Used To Dress. CD2: 01. NarrationSun Ra In The Military October 1942; 02. NarrationSun Ra InterviewSunny Remembers Fletcher Henderson; 03. NarrationThe Fletcher Henderson Orchestra "Live" 1945; 04. 1945Ernie Whitman & Fletcher Henderson Commentary; 05. 1945You're Driving Me CrazyFletcher Henderson Orchestra "Live"; 06. 1945King Porter StompFletcher Henderson Orchestra "Live"; 07. NarrationSun Ra InterviewSunny Remembers Pianists Art Tatum; 08. NarrationThe Art Tatum / Erroll Garner Influence; 09. 1945Ernie WhitmanArt Tatum Introduction; 10. 1945Song Of The VagabondArt Tatum "Live"; 11. 1945Ernie WhitmanErroll Garner Introduction; 12. 1945Erroll's BounceErroll Garner "Live"; 13. NarrationSwing "The War Years On Radio" 1943-1944; 14. 1944Ernie Whitman Introduction; 15. 1944Loose WigThe Lionel Hampton Orchestra "Live"; 16. 1943Ernie WhitmanJimmie Lunceford Introduction; 17. 1943Little JohnThe Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra "Live"; 18. 1943Ernie WhitmanBenny Carter Introduction; 19. 1943Cuttin' TimeThe Benny Carter Orchestra "Live"; 20. 1943Russian LullabyThe Cab Calloway Orchestra "Live"; 21. NarrationSun Ra InterviewSunny Remembers His School Bands / Why He Left Alabama; 22. NarrationWynonie Harris w/The Jumpin' Jimmie Jackson Band 1946; 23. 4-14-46Dig This BoogieWynonie Harris w/Jumpin' Jimmy Jackson Band; 24. 4-14-46Lightnin' Struck The PoorhouseWynonie Harris w/Jumpin' Jimmy Jackson Band; 25. 4-14-46My Baby's BarrelhouseWynonie Harris w/Jumpin' Jimmy Jackson Band; 26. 4-14-46Drinkin' By MyselfWynonie Harris w/Jumpin' Jimmy Jackson Band; 27. NarrationThe Billy Eckstine Orchestra Influence 1944; 28. 1944Ernie Whitman Introduction; 29. 1944Airmail SpecialThe Billy Eckstine Orchestra "Live"; 30. 1944Ernie Whitman Introduction; 31. 1944Love Me Or Leave MeThe Billy Eckstine Orchestra "Live"; 32. NarrationThe Dizzy Gillespie Big Band Influence 1948; 33. 1948Minor WalkThe Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra; 34. NarrationSun Ra InterviewRecalls Chicago In 1946The Bands He Played In; 35. NarrationThe Lil Green Orchestra 1946-1947; 36. 7-23-46Blowtop BluesThe Lil Green Orchestra; 37. 7-31-46No Good ManThe Lil Green Orchestra; 38. 7-31-46How Come You Do Me Like You DoThe Lil Green Orchestra; 39. 4-18-47Lonely WomanThe Lil Green Orchestra; 40. NarrationBlues Legend Willie DixonThe Blues Influence. CD3: 01. NarrationThe Church Organ Recordings 1948; 02. 1948All The Things You AreSun Ra Plays Church Organ; 03. 1948Wind In The Trees (Early Avant-Garde)Sun Ra Plays Church Organ; 04. 1948Willow Weep For MeSun Ra Plays Church Organ; 05. NarrationThe Piano & Solovox Recordings 1948 Pt. 1 06. 7-29-48Deep Purple w/Stuff SmithSun Ra Plays Piano & Solovox; 07. Sun Ra InterviewSunny Remembers Stuff Smith; 08. NarrationThe Piano & Solovox Recordings 1948 Pt. 2; 09. 7-29-48Darn That DreamSun Ra Plays Piano & Solovox; 10. 7-29-48Yesterdays w/Jesse MillerSun Ra Plays Piano & Solovox; 11. NarrationThe Piano & Solovox Recordings 1948 Pt. 3; 12. 8-10-48If The Only KnewSun Ra PoetrySun Ra Plays Piano & Solovox; 13. NarrationThe Piano & Solovox Recordings 1948 Pt. 4; 14. 8-10-48The Darkness WithinSun Ra Plays Piano & Solovox; 15. NarrationThe Mary Lou Williams Composition Influence 1945; 16. 1945TaurusThe Mary Lou Williams Trio; 17. 1945CancerThe Mary Lou Williams Trio; 18. NarrationSun RaHis Mary Lou Williams Influenced Compositions 1948; 19. 8-10-48Ode To Mary LouSun Ra Plays Solo Piano; 20. 8-10-48I've Got A SecretSun Ra Plays Solo Piano; 21. 8-10-48Something In Your SmileSun Ra Plays Solo Piano; 22. 8-10-48High Steppin'Sun Ra Plays Solo Piano; 23. 7-21-49I've Got Some New BluesSun Ra Plays Solo Piano; 24. NarrationThe Mary Lou Williams Big Band Arrangement Influence 1947; 25. 1947Lonely MomentsThe Milton Orent / Frank Roth Orchestra; 26. 1947Whistle BluesThe Milton Orent / Frank Roth Orchestra; 27. NarrationSunny And Jo Jo Adams 1947; 28. NarrationJunior Wells InterviewThe Early Days Of Chicago Blues; 29. NarrationJo Jo Adams w/Tom Archia (possible new Sun Ra arrangement find); 30. 7-3-47Love MeJo Jo Adams w/Tom Archia All-Stars; 31. 7-3-47Drinkin' BluesJo Jo Adams w/Tom Archia All-Stars; 32. 7-3-47If I Feel Like This TomorrowJo Jo Adams w/Tom Archia All-Stars; 33. 7-3-47Cryin' By My WindowJo Jo Adams w/Tom Archia All-Stars; 34. NarrationThe 1948 Record Ban / Andrew Tibbs & The Dozier Boys 1948; 35. 10-18-48He's Got Her And GoneAndrew Tibbs & The Dozier Boys; 36. 10-18-48The Holidays Are OverAndrew Tibbs & The Dozier Boys; 37. NarrationThe Dozier Boys w/The Sax Mallard Band 1948 (note: missing tracks); 38. 11-27-48In A Travelin' MoodAndrew Tibbs & The Dozier Boys; 39. 11-27-48In Every Man's LifeAndrew Tibbs & The Dozier Boys; 40. NarrationBobby "Blue" Bland InterviewThe Blues Are About Life. CD4: 01. NarrationThe Early Foundations Of R&B Doo Wop; 02. NarrationThe Dozier Boys w/The Eugene Wright Band; 03. 12-12-48Big Time BabyThe Dozier Boys w/ Eugene Wright Band; 04. 12-12-48Pork-N-BeansThe Dozier Boys w/ Eugene Wright Band; 05. 12-12-48Dawn MistThe Dozier Boys w/ Eugene Wright Band; 06. 12-12-48The Music Goes Down And RoundThe Dozier Boys w/ Eugene Wright Band; 07. NarrationSun Ra & The Red Saunders Orchestra 1948; 08. 12-18-48Trust In MeGeorge Floyd w/The Red Saunders Orchestra; 09. 12-18-48SynthesisThe Red Saunders Orchestra; 10. 12-18-48Jitterbuggin'The Red Saunders Orchestra; 11. 12-18-48Legs Gettin' BiggerGeorge Kirby w/The Red Saunders Orchestra; 12. NarrationSun Ra InterviewLexington, Indiana 1949The Blue Grass Inn; 13. NarrationThe Sonny Blount Trio; 14. 6-4-49UpstairsThe Sunny Blount Trio; 15. 6-4-49Sunny's Bop / Just One Of Those ThingsThe Sunny Blount Trio; 16. NarrationSun Ra InterviewSunny Speaks Highly Of Vocalist Billie Holiday; 17. NarrationLouis Armstrong Speaks Of Billie Holiday / Lady DayYesterdays; 18. NarrationSun Ra Sings & Plays Piano; 19. 7-21-49SmileSun Ra Sings & Plays Piano; 20. 7-21-49Old Man RiverSun Ra Sings & Plays Piano; 21. Sun Ra Song Introduction; 22. 7-23-49Somewhere Over The RainbowSun Ra Sings & Plays Piano; 23. 7-23-49Out Of NowhereSun Ra Sings & Plays Piano; 24. NarrationSun Ra InterviewRecalls His Band In Chicago & Alabama A&M; 25. NarrationThe Chicago Blues Influence / Andrew Tibbs w/Leo Blevins Trio; 26. 7-27-49How LongAndrew Tibbs w/Leo Blevins Trio; 27. 7-27-49I KnowAndrew Tibbs w/Leo Blevins Trio; 28. NarrationThe Sonny Blount Trio "Live" 1949; 29. 8-17-49You Go To My HeadThe Sunny Blount Trio "Live at Birdland"; 30. 8-17-49Blue Chicago BluesThe Sunny Blount Trio "Live at Birdland"; 31. NarrationSugar Chile Robinson w/Red Saunders Orchestra 1950; 32. 1-24-50Bouncin' The BallSugar Chile Robinson w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 33. 1-24-50I'll Eat My SpinachSugar Chile Robinson w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 34. NarrationDorothy Donegan 1950; 35. 6-10-50D.D.D.Dorothy Donegan w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 36. 6-10-50Ridin' The BoogieDorothy Donegan w/Red Saunders Orchestra. CD5: 01. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra w/Joe Williams #11950; 02. 6-15-50Blow Mr. Low BlowJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 03. 6-15-50Chi (pronounced "Shy" for Chicago)Joe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 04. 6-15-50Lyin' Girl BluesJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 05. NarrationSun Ra InterviewThe Innovators & The Youth; 06. NarrationThe Mary Lou Williams Jazz Organ & Piano Influence 1950; 07. 1-3-50Bye Bye BluesMary Lou Williams Trio; 08. NarrationAndrew Tibbs w/Sax Mallard Sextet 1950; 09. 10-13-50You Can't WinAndrew Tibbs w/Sax Mallard Sextet; 10. 10-13-50Achin' HeartAndrew Tibbs w/Sax Mallard Sextet; 11. NarrationSun Ra & The Unidentified Vocalist 1950; 12. 11-11-50Pennies From HeavenSun Ra & The Unknown Vocalist; 13. 11-11-50You The Night And The MusicSun Ra & The Unknown Vocalist; 14. NarrationSun Ra Meets Alto Saxophonist John Jenkins 1950; 15. 11-11-50Cocktails For Two / TenderlySun Ra & John Jenkins; 16. 11-11-50The PhantomSun Ra & John Jenkins; 17. NarrationSun Ra InterviewHearing Legendary Blues & Jazz Bands; 18. NarrationSun Ra & Laverne Baker aka Little Miss Sharecropper 1950; 19. 12-17-50Take Some Time OutLittle Miss Sharecropper w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 20. 12-17-50I've TriedLittle Miss Sharecropper w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 21. 12-17-50How LongLittle Miss Sharecropper w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 22. 12-17-50I Want To RockLittle Miss Sharecropper w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 23. NarrationThe Wilbur Ware / John Jenkins / Leo Blevins Rehearsals 1951 Pt. 1; 24. 2-6-51The Nearness Of YouSun Ra & Wilbur Ware; 25. 2-6-51Sunny's Place #1 Sun Ra & Wilbur Ware; 26. NarrationThe Wilbur Ware / John Jenkins / Leo Blevins Rehearsals 1951 Pt. 2; 27. 2-6-51The Man I LoveSun Ra / Wilbur Ware & Leo Blevins; 28. 3-17-51Sunny's Place #2Sun Ra / Wilbur Ware & John Jenkins; 29. NarrationThe Sun Ra Mystery Clip; 30. 2-6-51All AloneSun RaThe Celeste & Piano Recordings. CD6: 01. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra w/Joe Williams #21951; 02. 4-20-51Stop Pretty Baby StopJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 03. 4-20-51Weekday BluesJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 04. 4-20-514AM Blues (instrumental)The Red Saunders Orchestra; 05. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra w/Joe Williams #31951; 06. 8-21-51Last Nights PartyJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 07. 8-21-51Hey BartenderJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 08. 8-21-51Boot 'Em Up (instrumental)The Red Saunders Orchestra; 09. 8-21-51Sugar BounceJoe Williams w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 10. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra w/June Davis 1951; 11. 8-21-51Gentle LoverJune Davis w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 12. 8-21-51J.D. BluesJune Davis w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 13. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra w/The Hambone Kids 1952; 14. 1-18-52HamboneThe Hambone Kids w/The Red Saunders Orchestra; 15. 4-3-52Zekiel, ZekielThe Hambone Kids w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 16. 4-3-52Piece Of Puddin'The Hambone Kids w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 17. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra 1952; 18. 1-18-52La Raspa (instrumental)The Red Saunders Orchestra; 19. NarrationThe Paul Bascomb Band 1952; 20. 3-3-52Blues And The BeatThe Paul Bascomb Band; 21. 3-3-52More Blues, More BeatThe Paul Bascomb Band; 22. 3-3-52Black OutThe Paul Bascomb Band; 23. 3-3-52Pink CadillacThe Paul Bascomb Band; 24. NarrationCharlie Gonzales w/Red Holloway Band 1952; 25. 1952Hi Yo SilverCharlie Gonzales w/Red Holloway Band; 26. 1952Such A Darn Fool Over YouCharlie Gonzales w/Red Holloway Band; 27. 1952Hey MuscatelCharlie Gonzales w/Red Holloway Band; 28. 1952I'm Through With YouCharlie Gonzales w/Red Holloway Band; 29. NarrationSun Ra InterviewBuilding The Arkestra In Chicago / Pat Patrick Rehearsals 1952; 30. 6-9-52Wonderful YouSun Ra Meets Pat Patrick; 31. 6-9-52A Place In My HeartSun Ra Meets Pat Patrick. CD7: 01. NarrationThe Afro Cuban InfluenceMachito 1951; 02. 11-17-51Symphony Sid Torin Announcement; 03. 11-17-51CarambolaMachito Orquesta "Live" At BirdlandNew York; 04. 11-17-51Symphony Sid Torin Announcement; 05. 11-17-51PicadilloMachito Orquesta "Live" At BirdlandNew York; 06. 11-17-51Symphony Sid Torin Announcement; 07. 11-17-51TangaMachito Orquesta "Live" At BirdlandNew York (song addition); 08. NarrationThe Afro Cuban InfluencePerez Prado 1947; 09. 1947Saca La ManoPerez Prado OrquestaHavana, Cuba; 10. 1947Kuba MamboPerez Prado OrquestaHavana, Cuba; 11. 1947KandelaPerez Prado OrquestaHavana, Cuba; 12. NarrationThe Afro Cuban Influence On Sun Ra 1953; 13. 1-21-53Mambo In TrumpetThe Red Saunders Orchestra; 14. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra w/Joe Williams #41953; 15. 1-21-53Honky Tonk Train Blues (instrumental)The Red Saunders Orchestra; 16. 1-21-53ProbablyJoe Williams w/The Red Saunders Orchestra; 17. 1-21-53Voodoo BluesJoe Williams w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 18. NarrationThe Gospel Influence On R&B Doo Wop; 19. 1937Golden Gate Gospel TrainThe Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet; 20. 1944Straighten Up And Fly Right "Live"The Golden Gate Quartet; 21. NarrationWilson Pickett & Aaron Neville InterviewsThe Gospel Influence; 22. 1950Our Father (The Lords Prayer)The Five Blind Boys (Jackson Harmoneers); 23. NarrationThe Swing Vocal Group EraThe Cats & The Fiddle 1939; 24. 12-7-39Mr. Rhythm ManThe Cats & The Fiddle; 25. NarrationThe Doo Wop InfluenceThe Ink Spots 1944; 26. 1944Ernie Whitman Ink Spots Introduction; 27. 1944If I Didn't CareThe Ink Spots "Live"; 28. NarrationJohnny Otis InterviewHow They Created Rhythm & Blues In The Late 1940s; 29. NarrationThe Early Days Of R&B Doo Wop Pt. 1; 30. NarrationWilson Pickett InterviewThe Chittlin' Circuit. CD8: 01. NarrationThe Early Days Of R&B Doo Wop Pt. 2; 02. 8-25-52Blues TrainBrowley Guy & The Skyscrapers; 03. 8-25-52You Ain't Gonna Worry MeBrowley Guy & The Skyscrapers; 04. NarrationThe Parrots w/Red Saunders Orchestra 1953; 05. 3-27-53Weep Weep WeepThe Parrots w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 06. 3-27-53Don't Leave MeThe Parrots w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 07. NarrationThe Spaniels w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1953 Pt. 1; 08. 5-4-53Since I Fell For YouThe Spaniels w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 09. 7-14-54I Got Some New BluesSun Ra & The Nu-Sounds; 10. NarrationThe Spaniels w/Red Saunders Orchestra 1953 Pt. 2; 11. 5-4-53BounceThe Spaniels w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 12. 7-14-54Honeysuckle RoseSun Ra & The Nu-Sounds; 13. NarrationThe Flamingos w/The Red Holloway Band 1953; 14. 8-?-53Golden TeardropsThe Flamingos w/Red Holloway Band; 15. 1-17-56Perfidious LoverWalter Dunn & The Metros w/The Sun Ra Arkestra; 16. NarrationThe Moonglows w/The Red Holloway Band 1953 Pt. 1; 17. 9-27-53My LoveThe Moonglows w/Red Holloway Band; 18. 1956Bye ByeThe Cosmic Rays w/Le Sun Ra & Arkestra; 19. NarrationThe Moonglows w/The Red Holloway Band 1953 Pt. 2; 20. 9-27-53Just A Lonely ChristmasThe Moonglows w/Red Holloway Band; 21. 9-27-53Hey Santa ClausThe Moonglows w/Red Holloway Band; 22. NarrationThe Pelicans w/Paul Bascomb & The Leo Blevins Trio? 1953; 23. 9-28-53White Cliffs Of DoverThe Pelicans w/Paul Bascomb Band; 24. 6-10-58I'm Glad You Love MeJuanita Rogers w/Mr. V's 5 Joys; 25. NarrationThe Rockettes w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1953; 26. 10-11-53Love NobodyThe Rockettes w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 27. 7-14-54I'm Through With YouThe Nu-SoundsRehearsal; 28. NarrationThe 5 Thrills (The Earls) w/The Paul Bascomb Band 1954; 29. 1-19-54LaverneThe 5 Thrills / The Earls w/Paul Bascomb Band; 30. 8-22-55DreamingThe Cosmic Rays; 31. NarrationThe 5 Echoes w/The Al Smith Band 1954; 32. 1-17-54So LonesomeThe 5 Echoes w/Al Smith Band; 33. 1-17-54BrokeThe 5 Echoes w/Al Smith; 34. 1-22-54That's My BabyThe 5 Echoes w/Al Smith Band; 35. 1-22-54Why Oh WhyThe 5 Echoes w/Al Smith Band. CD9: 01. NarrationSun Ra InterviewSunny Remembers His Vocal Groups; 02. NarrationThe Founding Of Saturn & El Saturn Records 1954; 03. 5-21-54My SweetRehearsal w/Roland Wilson & The Nu-Sounds; 04. 5-21-54My Land Of DreamsRehearsal w/Roland Wilson & The Nu-Sounds; 05. 5-21-54Dreams Come TrueRehearsal w/Roland Wilson & The Nu-Sounds; 06. NarrationSun Ra InterviewDescribes His Music As Being Far Ahead; 07. NarrationThe 5 Chances (w/Clyde Williams); 08. 4-10-54NagasakiThe 5 Chances (w/Clyde Williams); 09. 4-10-54Make Love To MeThe 5 Chances (w/Clyde Williams); 10. NarrationThe Flamingos w/The Al Smith Band 1954; 11. 7-11-54Dream Of A LifetimeThe Flamingos w/The Al Smith Band; 12. NarrationThe 5 Arrows w/The Paul Bascomb Band 1954; 13. 7-17-54You Got Me Losing My MindGloria Valdez & The 5 Arrows w/Paul Bascomb Band; 14. 7-17-54Pretty Little ThingThe 5 Arrows w/Paul Bascomb Band; 15. NarrationWalter Spriggs w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1954; 16. 10-22-54I'm Not Your Fool AnymoreWalter Spriggs w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 17. NarrationThe Rhythm Aces w/Red Saunders Orchestra 19541955; 18. 11-11-54I Wonder WhyThe Rhythm Aces w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 19. 11-11-54Whisper To MeThe Rhythm Aces w/Red Saunders Orchestra; 20. NarrationThe Maples w/The Von Freeman Band 1954; 21. 11-19-5499 GuysThe Maples w/Von Freeman Band; 22. 2-5-55Honeysuckle RoseThe Nu-Sounds; 23. NarrationThe Fortunes w/Unknown Band 1955; 24. 1-25-55LoveThe Fortunes; 25. 1-25-55BreadThe Fortunes; 26. NarrationThe Early Sci-Fi Factuality Influence; 27. NarrationThe Walter Dunn "Repeto" Studio Rehearsal & Session 1956; 28. 1-17-56I'll Close My HeartWalter Dunn & The MetrosRehearsal; 29. 1-17-56When You're In Love This WayWalter Dunn & The MetrosRehearsal; 30. 1-17-56Christina, Eugena, MarieWalter Dunn & The MetrosStudio; 31. 1-17-56Perfidious Lover #2Walter Dunn & The MetrosStudio; 32. NarrationHamp Jones 1957; 33. 1957Pack Your ClothesHamp Jones w/Unknown Band; 34. NarrationMel London w/Unknown Band 1957; 35. 1957Man From The IslandMel London w/Unknown Band. CD10: 01. NarrationThe Serenaders 1957 w/Unknown Band; 02. 1957The Pajama GameThe Serenaders w/Unknown Band; 03. 1957A Sinner In LoveThe Serenaders w/Unknown Band; 04. NarrationThe Supremes "Live" w//Sun Ra & His Rays Of Jazz 1958 05. 1958Everybody MamboThe Supremes w/Sun Ra & His Rays Of Jazz; 06. NarrationOdetta InterviewThe Body Is The First Instrument; 07. NarrationSun Ra & The Early Avant-Garde Organ Recordings 1953 Pt. 1 Featuring Thea Barbara & An Unidentified Male Vocalist; 8. 3-9-53The Many Thoughts Of...; 9. 3-9-53The Inner Being; 10. 3-9-53The Haunted Melody; 11. NarrationSun Ra & The Early Avant-Garde Organ Recordings 1953 Pt. 2 Featuring The Unidentified Male Vocalist; 12. 3-9-53Pennies From Heaven; 13. 3-9-53You And The Night And The Music; 14. NarrationThe Stan Kenton New Direction Influence; 15. NarrationSun RaThe Solo Piano Recordings Pt. 1; 16. 4-27-53Ebb Tide; 17. NarrationAlberta Adams w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1953; 18. 7-16-53Messin' With The Blues; 19. 7-16-53Remember; 20. NarrationBlues Vocalist Alberta AdamsWhy She Sings The Blues; 21. NarrationJo Jo Adams w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1953; 22. 9-21-53Call My Baby; 23. 9-21-53Rebecca; 24. NarrationSun RaThe Solo Piano Recordings #2; 25. 9-25-53I Remember You; 26. 9-25-53The Best Things In Life Are Free; 27. NarrationJoe Williams w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1953; 28. 9-28-53It's Raining Again; 29. 9-28-53On The Blue Side; 30. 9-28-53Detour Ahead; 31. 9-28-53Blow Mr. Low Blow (remake); 32. NarrationThe Red Saunders Orchestra 1953; 33. 12-31-53Summertime; 34. 12-31-53Riverboat; 35. 12-31-53Lawdy Lucy; 36. 12-31-53Tired Of Movin.' CD11: 01. NarrationThe Coleman Hawkins Parrot Recordings 1954 Pt. 1; 02. 5-27-54I'll Follow My Secret Heart; 03. 5-27-54What A Difference A Day Made; 04. 5-27-54September Song; 05. NarrationThe Coleman Hawkins Parrot Recordings 1954 Pt. 2; 06. 5-27-54Blue Blue Days; 07. 5-27-54Flight Eleven; 08. NarrationThe Paul Bascomb Parrot Recordings 1954 Pt. 1; 09. 7-14-54Jan Pt. 1 & 2; 10. 7-14-54Liza's Blues; 11. NarrationThe Paul Bascomb Parrot Recordings 1954 Pt. 2; 12. 7-?-54Jumpin' At El Sino; 13. 7-?-54Alley B On Avenue C; 14. NarrationSun Ra And The Vee Jay & Duke Labels 1954; 15. NarrationGrant Jones w/The King Kolax Band; 16. 12-31-54What Have You Done To Me; 17. 12-31-54Right Now; 18. NarrationThe King Kolax Band; 19. 12-31-54Vivian; 20. 12-31-54Goodnite Blues; 21. NarrationBilly Brooks w/The Red Saunders Orchestra 1955; 22. 2-18-55Mambo Is Everywhere; 23. 2-18-55Song Of A Dreamer; 24. 2-18-54I Want Your Love Tonight; 25. 2-18-54This Is My Prayer; 26. NarrationThe Early Sun Ra & Pat Patrick Rehearsals 1955 The Treasure Hunt Tape; 27. 7-23-55Of This I Know take 1; 28. 7-23-55Of This I Know take 2; 29. 7-23-55When You're With The One You Love; 30. 7-23-55Darn That Dream. CD12: 01. NarrationThe Billie Hawkins Rehearsal 1956; 02. 1-12-56I'm Coming Home (rehearsal); 03. 1-12-56Last Call For Love (rehearsal); 04. 1-12-56Kiss Me Sweet (rehearsal); 05. 1-12-56At Last (rehearsal); 06. NarrationThe Billie Hawkins Heat Beat Recordings 1956; 07. 2-17-56I'm Coming Home (studio version); 08. 2-17-56Last Call For Love (studio version); 09. NarrationSun Ra InterviewTeaching The Arkestra To Play Like Swing Musicians; 10. NarrationSun Ra Respected By Musicians / The Le Suny'r Ra Band "Live" 1956; 11. 3-18-56Big City Blues; 12. 3-18-56Delilah (John Gilmore Solo Feature); 13. 3-18-56Velvet; 14. NarrationThe James Scales / Wilbur Green / Robert Barry Rehearsal 1956; 15. 4-23-56Somebody Else's Worlds; 16. 4-23-56Blues In Outer Space; 17. 4-23-56Space Aura (incomplete); 18. NarrationThe Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth Session 1956Velvet; 19. 5-17-56Velvet take 1 (complete take); 20. 5-27-56Velvet take 2 (F/S); 21. 5-27-56Velvet take 3 (F/S); 22. 5-27-56Velvet take 4 (complete take); 23. NarrationRay Charles InterviewWhat It Means To Be A Good Singer; 24. NarrationSun Ra InterviewClyde Williams; 25. NarrationClyde Williams w/Sun Ra & His Arkestra 1956Dreams Come True; 26. 5-27-56Dreams Come True take 2 (complete take); 27. 5-27-56Dreams Come True take 3 (F/S); 28. 5-27-56Dreams Come True take 4 (complete take); 29. NarrationSun Ra InterviewDreams Come True (closer); 30. NarrationClyde Williams w/Sun Ra Arkestra "Live" 1958; 31. 1958S'Wonderful; 32. 1958Roll 'Em Pete; 33. 1958My Funny Valentine (added track). CD13: 01. NarrationThe Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth Session 1956 Pt. 1; 02. 5-27-56Eve take 1 (F/S); 03. 5-27-56Eve (complete unedited version); 04. NarrationSun Ra InterviewPlaying What People Need; 05. NarrationThe Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth Session 1956El Viktor; 06. 5-27-56El Viktor take 1 (complete take); 07. 5-27-56El Viktor take 2 (F/S); 08. 5-27-56El Viktor take 3 (F/S); 09. 5-27-56El Viktor take 4 (F/S); 10. 5-27-56El Viktor take 5 (master take); 11. NarrationThe Hattie Randolph Bud Land Rehearsal 1957; 12. 8-25-57Don't Blame Me take 1; 13. 8-25-57Hattie and band conversation; 14. 8-25-57Don't Blame Me take 2; 15. NarrationSun Ra InterviewWhy The Band Is Called The Arkestra; 16. NarrationThe Calvin Newborn Bud Land Rehearsal 1957; 17. 8-25-57Blue Space; 18. 8-25-57Everything I Have Is Yours; 19. NarrationThe Sun Ra Poetry Recordings 1948-1982; 20. NarrationThe Pershing Ballroom All-Star Jam 1958; 21. 8-15-58Chi-Town Blues; 22. 8-15-58Just You, Just Me; 23. 8-15-58I Can't Get Started (added track); 24. 8-15-58Don't Blame Me (added track). CD14: 01. NarrationThe 1958 Yochanan Recordings; 02. NarrationSun Ra & His Arkestra Live At Bud Land 1958The John Gilmore Feature; 03. 9-23-58Just One Of Those Things; 04. 9-23-58Sophisticated Blues; 05. 9-23-58Will You Still Be Mine; 06. NarrationSun Ra InterviewHaving Discipline In His Band; 07. NarrationSun Ra & The Arkestra Play Pop Hits 1958Tequila; 08. 9-23-58Tequila / End Of Set Theme; 09. NarrationHattie Randolph Records With The Arkestra 1959; 10. 3-6-59Round Midnightmono take 1 (F/S); 11. 3-6-59Round Midnightmono take 2 (F/S; 12. 3-6-59Round Midnightmono take 3 (master take); 13. NarrationHattie Randolph With The ArkestraLive At The Jazz Showcase 1976; 14. 11-28-76Don't Blame Me; 15. NarrationSun Ra InterviewPlaying Another Kind Of Music; 16. NarrationProducer Michael D. AndersonClosing Comments; 17. NarrationSun RaClosing Comments Collage; 18. End Music ThemeDiscipline.
Personnel: Too numerous to list (you thought the track listing was long?).