470

Sun Ra Arkestra: Secrets Of The Sun & Live At The Paradox

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count








Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra
Secrets Of The Sun
Atavistic
2009


Sun Ra Arkestra
Live At The Paradox
In and Out Records
2009


In a world beset by economic crises, the continued existence of the Sun Ra Arkestra for over 55 years outside the mainstream is nothing short of miraculous and testament to the enduring vision, charisma and determination of the man from Saturn. Since Ra left the planet in 1993, surviving original member, reedman Marshall Allen, has maintained both his legacy and the Arkestra as a creative force. These two discs from opposite ends of the group's timeline give some idea of the (space)ways they have traveled.

Recorded in 1962, though not released until 1965, Secrets of the Sun now appears for the first time on CD, complete with a bonus track from the same period. At this point in their history, the Arkestra were in transition, moving physically from Chicago to New York, but musically from recognizably swinging big band charts to conducted improvisations. Even when the form is conventional, as on the martial "Friendly Galaxy" or the driving "Space Aura," the simultaneous soloing flutes on the former or the alternating tenor and baritone saxophone spots that ultimately coalesce on the latter, show a chafing at the bounds.

On other tracks they are more experimental. "Solar Symbols" emphasizes bells, gongs and percussion treated with heavy reverb, which hasn't weathered well. But on "Love In Outer Space" John Gilmore's bass clarinet remains genuinely disturbing as it slides between pitches in the upper register like no one before or since. The previously unreleased 17-minute "Journey to Mars" is most notable for the fragments from other sessions spliced into the opening, before a chugging rhythm and series of solos, with Ronnie Boykins' arco bass sawing being the best of the bunch. Probably essential for Saturnophiles, but the uninitiated should start elsewhere.

Fast forward 47 years and the Arkestra continues to go strong as evidenced by this document from the Paradox Club in the Netherlands, recorded at the end of a week-long residency. Their program draws from a book which spans the decades, mixing Ra originals like "Velvet" and "Dreams Come True" (with Knoel Scott crooning the lyrics), alongside some newly minted pieces by Allen that fit snugly into the Arkestral vernacular.

All told, this is a much more straightforward experience. Allen remains the most adventurous soloist. His distinctive eldritch alto saxophone shrieking features strongly on the infectious "Discipline 27-B," segueing into "I'll Wait For You." Reedmen Scott and Abdul Yahya Majid also give good accounts of themselves, though generally solo spots are brief. Fletcher Henderson staple "Hocus Pocus" is given an authentic Swing era rendition, complete with wah-wah trumpets and muscular tenor. Farid Baron essays some high-stepping piano on "Space Idol" playing with some aplomb considering the shoes he's filling. Still a vital force, the Arkestra's Live at the Paradox persuades whether as advert for performance or souvenir after the event.


Tracks and Personnel

Secrets Of The Sun

Tracks: Friendly Galaxy; Solar Differentials; Space Aura; Love In Outer Space; Reflects Motion; Solar Symbols; Flight To Mars.

Personnel: Sun Ra: piano, sun harp, gong; Al Evans: flugelhorn (1, 7); Marshall Allen: flute, alto saxophone, morrow, percussion (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7); John Gilmore: bass clarinet, tenor saxophone, space bird sounds, percussion, voice; Pat Patrick: flute, baritone saxophone, spacedrums, bongo (1, 3, 4, 6, 7); Calvin Newborn: electric guitar (1, 7); Ronnie Boykins: bass; Tommy Hunter: drums, space bird sounds, reverb, percussion (1, 2, 5, 6); C. Scoby Stroman: drums (2, 3, 5, 7); Art Jenkins: space voice (2); Eddie Gale: trumpet (3); Jimmy Johnson: percussion (4);

Live At The Paradox

Tracks: Space Walk; Discipline 27-B—I'll Wait For You; Dreams Come True; Velvet; You'll Find Me; Millenium; Take Off; Hocus Pocus; Space Idol.

Personnel: Marshall Allen: director, alto saxophone, EVI, flute, clarinet, vocals; Charles Davis: tenor saxophone; Knoel Scott: alto saxophone, vocals; Yahya Abdul Majid: tenor saxophone; Danny Thompson: baritone saxophone, flute, percussion; Rey Scott: baritone saxophone, flute; Fred Adams: trumpet; Cecil Brooks: trumpet; Dave Davis: trombone, tuba; Farid Barron: piano, organ; Dave Hotep: guitar; Juini Booth: bass; Wayne A. Smith Jr.: drums; Elson Nascimento: surdo.


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Another Timbre’s Violin +1 Series" Multiple Reviews Another Timbre’s Violin +1 Series
by John Eyles
Published: June 9, 2016
Read "Three saxophonists very different paths since "Propagations"" Multiple Reviews Three saxophonists very different paths since "Propagations"
by John Eyles
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago" Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Two  Scandinavian Jazz Orchestras" Multiple Reviews Two Scandinavian Jazz Orchestras
by John Eyles
Published: May 23, 2016
Read "The Unity Sessions / Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" Multiple Reviews The Unity Sessions / Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 7, 2016
Read "Emanem Tidies Up" Multiple Reviews Emanem Tidies Up
by John Eyles
Published: December 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!