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Sun Ra And His Astro Infinity Arkestra: Pathways To Unknown Worlds

Read "Pathways To Unknown Worlds" reviewed by Ian Patterson

To make sense of Sun Ra's teeming discography would require a forensic sensibility. The Alabaman's output was vast, reissues on multiple labels numerous, and the provenance of much of his studio work--the dates, location, personnel etc—is often uncertain. This reissue of Pathways to Unknown Worlds, first released in 1975 on ABC/Impulse!, is a case in point. It's not the first CD reissue of Pathways to Unknown Worlds. In 2000, Evidence released a version that included an untitled five ...

JAZZ RACONTEURS

Sun Ra's Journey To Moers

Read "Sun Ra's Journey To Moers" reviewed by Greg Drusdow

This story first appeared in the 1996 Moers Jazz Festival program. For those who attended the Moers Festival in 1979, they should remember the closing show of the last night as being one of the most exceptional events in the Moers Festival history--the night the Sun Ra Arkestra landed there. Getting Sun Ra to bring the Arkestra was quite a challenge to festival organizer and impresario Burkhard Hennen, since at the Moers Festival in 1978 he ...

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Sun Ra: Monorails & Satellites: Works For Solo Piano Vols. 1, 2, 3

Read "Monorails & Satellites: Works For Solo Piano Vols. 1, 2, 3" reviewed by John Ephland

Sun Ra as a pianist could be in your parlor, entrancing you with all manner of wistfulness, star-gazing, even a dash of the down-and-dirty via some dusty blues or off-kilter, angular, jagged afterthoughts. In this two-disc solo piano set, the nine selections that make up disc two bring it all back home, the music coalescing in sometimes strange and wonderful ways that, perhaps, give a more intimate look into the man's musical heart. Ending with an at-times dreamy then jaunty, ...

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Sun Ra: God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be

Read "God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Herman Poole Blount, contrary to some urban myths, didn't claim to be born on the planet Saturn but had purportedly been transported there--and back--in his teens. A life shrouded in mystery, it isn't entirely clear when Blount became Sun Ra but it's estimated to be in the early 1940s when he was active on the Chicago jazz scene. Ra was a prodigy, playing piano and composing before he was in his teens. In his lifetime, he released sixty-eight studio albums ...

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Sun Ra: Space Is The Place

Read "Space Is The Place" reviewed by James Fleming

He was a solar flare, a surge of energy that rocketed across great distances and divides, bestowing all he encountered with unforgettable memories and disrupting radio transmissions. Science-fiction, transcendentalism, and jazz coalesced in the being called Sun Ra. A radical concoction, sky-bound and heaven-sent. Ra's music was always stratospheric, always reaching above and beyond. His constant striving resulted in an abundance of stellar records. But as a sonic statement and philosophical manifesto, 1973's Space Is The Place stands ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Sun Ra: Of Abstract Dreams

Read "Of Abstract Dreams" reviewed by Ian Patterson

Neither Sun Ra's death nor the passing of a quarter of a century since has slowed down the seemingly insatiable appetite for archival recordings of the pianist, composer and poet. In 2014, to mark the centenary of Sun Ra's birth--né Herman Poole Blount--Strut Records and Art Yard issued the 2-CD, career-spanning compilation In The Orbit of Ra. This was followed by Planets of Life and Death (2015), a previously unreleased live recording from 1973 in Amiens, France, Some Far Place ...

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Sun Ra: God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be

Read "God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be" reviewed by Chris May

Sun Ra is best known for the extensive archive of recordings he made with his Arkestra, and most Ra enthusiasts are probably first attracted to his work by the sui generis imagination he brought to arranging for large ensembles. These span the recalibrated swing-band tropes of Jazz In Silhouette (Saturn, 1959), a perfect choice for an advanced-level Blindfold Test, through off-planet takes on exotica such as those compiled on the previously reviewed Exotica (Modern Harmonic, 2018), and on to such ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Sun Ra And His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra: Sun Embassy

Read "Sun Embassy" reviewed by Mark Corroto

I know what you're thinking, the world doesn't need another Sun Ra record. You don't need another Sun Ra record. With a discography swelling monthly, sometimes weekly, I often think when will it end? Then, once back in my right mind, I rejoice to find some tasty unreleased material from a very fertile period in Herman Poole “Sonny" Blount's career.Sun Embassy comprises rehearsal tapes from five sessions from May 1968 to October 1969. This would be shortly after ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Sun Ra: Exotica

Read "Exotica" reviewed by Chris May

Spring 2018 is delivering a welcome batch of Sun Ra reissues, some of them remastered editions of existing albums, others newly put-together compilations. Among the compilations, two stand out: the previously reviewed Sun Ra Plays Gershwin (Enterplanetary Records, 2017) and now Exotica. Both are mellifluous beauties which showcase Ra's unapologetic love of a good tune. Listeners who prefer bracingly atonal Ra will need to look elsewhere. In the jazz community, the guiltiest of guilty pleasures might well be exotica, the ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Sun Ra: Sun Ra Plays Gershwin

Read "Sun Ra Plays Gershwin" reviewed by Chris May

Here is a treat for all lovers of the Great American Songbook. Well, maybe not quite all, for the confluence of names in the album title Sun Ra Plays Gershwin may sound ill-matched to Ra's detractors. But that would be to ignore Ra's love of good tunes and his sure touch when it came to arranging ballads and jazz standards, first for Fletcher Henderson in the 1940s and later for his own bands. You want bracingly atonal Ra? You got ...

JAZZMATAZZ

Sun Ra Nuclear War: A Smooth Soundtrack to the Apocalypse

Read "Sun Ra Nuclear War: A Smooth Soundtrack to the Apocalypse" reviewed by Matt Hooke

With threats of our impending doom through nuclear hellfire seemingly increasing by the day. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk about one of my favorite Sun Ra songs, “Nuclear War." A song so smooth and hilarious it almost makes you welcome the apocalypse. “Nuclear War" was released twice, initially on the 1982 album of the same name, and then a second time a year later on A Fireside Chat with Lucifer since on both ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium by John Corbett

Read "Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium by John Corbett" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium John Corbett 264 Pages ISBN: #0822363666 Duke University Press Books 2017 John Corbett is a music critic, record producer, and curator. For twelve years--from 2000 to 2012--he wrote a column titled “Vinyl Freak" for Downbeat magazine, and those collected columns form the backbone of this book. Corbett wrote about out of print LPs in his extensive collection: ranging from the extremely obscure (and in a ...


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