The 1966 concert recording which comprises this albumhere in a new, audio-improved editionhas travelled the discographical spaceways in what, when it comes to Sun Ra, is properly circuitous and confusing fashion. Eight tracks from it were scheduled for release by ESP-Disk in 1967 or 1968 as The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra Volume III, complete with a catalogue number (ESP 1046), but the release never happened. The same tracks were then issued by ESP as the LP Nothing Is in 1969. In 2005, the label reissued the album on CD with four extra tracks and a rejigged track running order which the liner notes said was the actual performance order. Then in 2010, ESP reissued it once again as part of the double CD College Tour Volume One, with another track running order and the claim that together the two discs contained "the entire 70-minute first set...from which the original album was culled" plus a partial second set and soundcheck / rehearsal material. Since the early 1970s, a large number of reissues, mostly bootlegs, have appeared on cassette, 8-track, LP, CD and DAT.
To cut to the chase, Nothing Is...Completed & Revisited is the definitive edition. It is a reissue of the 2005 ESP release, but not as we know it, Jim. Like all the albums in ezz-thetics' Revisited strand it was been sonically transformed by one of the label's mastering jedis, in this case Michael Brandli (who earlier in 2022 also excelled himself with John Coltrane's Song Of Praise: New York 1965, a remastering of the 2005 Impulse release One Down, One Up: Live At The Half Note).
Recorded on May 18, 1966 at St Lawrence University, Potsdam, NY, Nothing Is...Completed & Revisited has Ra, who was at the time only just beginning to perform on the US college circuit, testing the water with a programme drawn from several stages of his work with the Arkestra. There are space chants ("Outer Spaceways Incorporated," "Next Stop Mars," "Second Stop Is Jupiter," "We Travel The Spaceways"), a salute to the swing era ("Velvet," from the 1959 Saturn masterpiece Jazz In Silhouette, a tip of the hat to Ra's onetime employer Fletcher Henderson), far-out material such as the sixteen minute version of "Outer Nothingness" from the 1965 ESP album The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra Vol. l, and trippy exotica such as reed player Marshall Allen's oboe feature "Exotic Forest," here given its first airing on disc.
The twelve-piece band is killer, with Allen, tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, baritone saxophonist Pat Patrick and trombonists Ali Hassan and Teddy Nance propelled by the A-team anchors Ronnie Boykins on bass and tuba and Clifford Jarvis on drums. Everyone, including Ra on clavioline and piano, is on top form. The sole nitpick with this otherwise peerless edition of the album concerns the personnel credits, which do not list all the instruments played by every musician. For those, see Additional Instrumentation below.
Sun Ra and His Band from Outer Space; The Shadow World; Theme of the Stargazers; Outer Spaceways Incorporated; Next Stop Mars; Dancing Shadows; Imagination; Second Stop Is Jupiter; Exotic Forest; Velvet; Outer Nothingness; We Travel the Spaceways.
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In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.