6

Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra: The Intergalactic Thing

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Sun Ra & His Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra: The Intergalactic Thing If you are a Sun Ra devotee, let's not use the terms "fanatic" or "zealot," you probably measure your collection in board feet instead of inches. Unlike many jazz legends of the 1950s, and 1960s, Herman Sonny Blount had the foresight to record his ensemble's rehearsals and concerts. He even established his own label El Saturn Records in 1957. Yes, nineteen-fifty-seven, when other jazz giants were bound to onerous contracts with major labels, Ra was producing what we now have as hundreds of studio, concert, and rehearsal recordings.

The Intergalactic Thing, a 2 LP release (with downloads) is a collection of rehearsals taped in the fall of 1969 at Ra's home studio in Philadelphia. The studio was also his home and the home of most of his Arkestra, here called the Astro- Ihnfinity Arkestra. Note the spelling. Earlier in the year, most of this ensemble performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and the National Jazz Festival. The subsequent releases by his Astro-Infinity Arkestra, on his El Saturn Research Records, included the noteworthy discs Atlantis (1969), My Brother The Wind (1970), and Sound Sun Pleasure!! (1970).

These rehearsal tapes are anything but demo recordings. They are the building blocks for live performances, extended arranged samples. While a hip-hop artist today might loop 10 seconds of a riff, these pieces are lengthier riffs, the longest being "Discipline Of The Pharaohs," at 9:50 and the shortest, "Moon Over Saturn," 1:56. In those short 2 minutes, Doug William's trumpet plies out a delicate trumpet solo over Ra's organ accompaniment.

Sun Ra's constant rehearsals were more than just practice. The music here is meditative, soul nurturing medicine. Just about every musician from the Arkestra, even the renowned saxophonists John Gilmore and Marshall Allen, doubles on percussion. There are pieces, like "Principles Of The Pharaohs," which are dominated by percussive rhythm with just a hint of flute (is that Marshall Allen or Danny Davis?) in which we hear Ra giving spoken direction. We hear the classic pieces "The Second Stop Is Jupiter" and "Spontaneous Simplicity," both reworked, as they would be constantly throughout Ra's career. Interestingly, much of the music heard here was never performed on stage. The great man loved to tinker with new ideas, trying out themes and testing them out. Rumor has it, there are hundreds of unpublished pieces stuffed in drawers and boxed up at his Germantown address.

The LPs boast a good sound. We heard Sun Ra on Farfisa organ and Hohner clavinet. With his and the Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra's solos abbreviated, the listening experience compresses seventeen different pieces into a one and a half hours of meditative listening.

Track Listing: The Others From Another World; Spontaneous Simplicity; Dance Of The Distant Star; The State Of Things To Come; The Second Stop Is Jupiter; Horoscope Prelude”; Discipline Of The Pharaohs; Latent Friends; Moon Over Saturn; Principles Of The Pharaohs; Saturn Moon; The Last Unknown; In, Over & Under; Calling Out To Saturn; From Here To There; The Exotic Forest; Do The Intergalactic Thing.

Personnel: Sun Ra: Farfisa organ, Hohner clavinet, direction; Doug Williams aka Akh Tal Ebah: trumpet, space dimension mellophone, percussion; Charles Stephens: trombone, percussion; John Gilmore: tenor saxophone, percussion; Marshall Allen: alto saxophone, flute, percussion; Danny Davis: alto saxophone, flute, percussion; Danny Ray Thompson: alto saxophone, percussion; Alex Blake: bass (13); James Jackson: percussion; William Brister aka Rashid Salim: congas; Keno Speller: congas; Lex Humphries: trap drums (3,4,6); Carl Malone aka Nimrod Hunt: hand drums;

Title: The Intergalactic Thing | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Roaratorio Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Translator's Note CD/LP/Track Review Translator's Note
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Then and Now CD/LP/Track Review Then and Now
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Gol CD/LP/Track Review Gol
by James Nadal
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Duo (DCWM) 2013 CD/LP/Track Review Duo (DCWM) 2013
by John Sharpe
Published: July 28, 2017
Read Magnetic CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read "Slight Freedom" CD/LP/Track Review Slight Freedom
by Dave Wayne
Published: December 10, 2016
Read "Liquid Melodies" CD/LP/Track Review Liquid Melodies
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Sketches on the Radio" CD/LP/Track Review Sketches on the Radio
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 14, 2016
Read "Triplicate" CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "Some Great Songs Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Some Great Songs Vol. 2
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 6, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.