Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

266

Sun Ra: Nuclear War

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Apocalyptic in title, but surprisingly upbeat in sound this 1980s Arkestral artifact makes a welcome return to circulation through John Corbett's Unheard Music Series. The album is actually yet another off mark entry in Ra's occasional bid for major label backing. He shopped the session to Columbia, but met with the usual blank stares from the record execs and eventually sold the session to British independent label Y. Quickly dropping out of sight and circulation the vinyl edition has since become a highly sought after collector's item.

The arms proliferation insanity of the Reagan-era works as timely fodder for the title track. Musically sparse with a pared down group consisting of rhythm section and Ra keyboard consoles the true thrust of the piece is its darkly humorous, expletive checkered lyrics. Intoning a street vernacular warning of world annihilation Ra gets others including trombonist Tyrone Hill in the group in on the act. "Retrospect" is rife with Ra's rocksichord effects and caps off with a florid Jimmy Smith-like finish. There's a flipside to all the doom and gloom and it takes the form of optimistic tracks like "Sometimes I'm Happy" where June Tyson's bewitching voice sings the insouciant sentiments of someone in love while the band riffs lushly around her. "Celestial Love" carries a similar vivacious message on a sliding rhythm of traps, hand drums and organ atop which the horns engage. Soloists step up and drop back in measured succession and the laidback mood is sustained.

John Gilmore corners the market on "Blue Intensity," blowing a two-part cerulean solo against stabbing organ fills from Ra and a warm bed of percussion. Flipping the Lounge switches on his set-up the man from Saturn deals in lambent chords throughout the appropriately ambiguous "Nameless One No. 2." Various swinging solos orbit his center and the piece diffuses in a unison wash of ascendant color. A final hopeful standard ends the set and Ra turns to acoustic keys for the occasion, perhaps lending a final affirmation that technology can be a double-bladed implement best treated with cautionary care.

As a slice of early 80's Arkestra this semi-forgotten effort is a revelatory listen, but placed in the vast cosmology of the band's discography it ends up seeming less momentous. Ra fanatics will most certainly snatch this reissue up and the accessibility of its sounds makes it easily recommendable to novices seeking ingress into the band's music. Still, those listeners whose affections for the band's more approachable side run lukewarm may wish to opt for more adventurous fare.

Track Listing: Nuclear War; Retrospect; Drop Me Off In Harlem; Sometimes I'm Happy; Celestial Love; Blue Intensity; Nameless One No.2; Smile.

Personnel: Alto Saxophone – Marshall Allen; Baritone Saxophone – Danny Ray Thompson; Bass – Hayes Burnett; Bassoon – James Jacson; Congas, Percussion – Atakatune; Drums – Samarai Celestial; Drums [Infinity] – James Jacson; Flute – Danny Ray Thompson, Marshall Allen; French Horn – Vincent Chancey; Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals – Sun Ra; Tenor Saxophone – John Gilmore; Trombone, Vocals – Tyron Hill; Trumpet – Walter Miller.

Title: Nuclear War | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Bach: Solo Works for Marimba" CD/LP/Track Review Bach: Solo Works for Marimba
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Cuban Nocturne" CD/LP/Track Review Cuban Nocturne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 7, 2017
Read "Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Alma Matters" CD/LP/Track Review Alma Matters
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "Morph" CD/LP/Track Review Morph
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 2, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!