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Sun Ra: Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 3

Mark Corroto By

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Have pity on the poor Sun Ra music collector. You see, those who "do research" on a single artist like Duke Ellington, Sonny Blount, or John Coltrane spend years and countless dollars chasing one thing, like a heroin addict who can never find a high as good as the first time. Those of us who had an audience with the great Sun Ra are never (let me repeat, never) able to duplicate that live concert experience on record, try as we might.

With a discography that includes studio sessions, live shows, and the elusive self-produced Saturn recordings, hunting for discs that the band might have only produced in runs of a hundred copies with no label, musician listing, or song tracks is indeed a search for that holiest of grails.

ESP has recently released a remastered version of Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 1 And 2 as well as this Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 3. Forget the reissue of Vol. 1 & 2—I know you completists can't—the remastering is not really up to any archival standards. Volume 3 does produce some interesting and surprising bits and pieces of music in its short 36 minutes.

The recording opens with a sparse "Intercosmosis, where John Gilmore shapes his boat-horn of a tenor around around some abstraction. Sun Ra and bassist Ronnie Boykins enter with a repeated line that further highlights the energy. Pat Patrick's baritone enters, and he and Gilmore twist solos around each other.

The percussion-laden "Mythology Metamorphosis features a brief bit of Marshall Allen's snake-charming alto before Boykins' solo takes it home. The three remaining pieces, each clocking in around five minutes, hint at Ra's elusive live performances. "Heliocentric Worlds has him switching from piano to one of his early electric keyboards, as does "World Worlds, where he does an alternating hands electric/acoustic combination. The final "Interplanetary Travelers has an all-too-brief Sun Ra energy jam.

I wish there was more, so I guess that makes this a good one.

Track Listing: Intercosmosis; Mythology Metamorphosis; Heliocentric Worlds; World Worlds; Interplanetary Travelers.

Personnel: Sun Ra - Piano, Tuned Bongos; Pat Patrick - Baritone Saxophone, Percussion; John Gilmore - Tenor Saxophone, Percussion; Marshall Allen - Alto Saxophone, Piccolo, Flute, Percussion; Robert Cummings - Bass Clarinet, Percussion; Walter Miller - Trumpet; Ronnie Boykins - Bass; Roger Blank - Percussion.

Title: Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 3 | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ESP Disk

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