Rooster_Ties

*** SUN RA Corner***

681 posts in this topic

This is a general Sun Ra thread, that I'm starting after listening to Ra's "Lanquidity" from 1978, just this morning. What a goovin', soulful, kinda 'out there' but not really that far 'out there' kinda album!!! I love Michael Ray's contribution (on trumpet), as he's always one of the highlights of any Sun Ra album he's on. Interestingly, Eddie Gale is on this one too - and I'm not sure who takes which solos, but I may have to listen more closely again (soon), and see if I can figure it out. Anybody know who the guitarist "Disco Kid" was??? (He's credited on two or three Ra albums, besides this one.) To me, "Lanquidity" has an almost "STRATA-EAST"-ish kind of vibe to it, which I mentioned in another thread.

If you don't own very many Sun Ra albums/CD's, can you say which ones you do own??? I'm interested in knowing what Ra titles people have, since there are so many in his vast catalog, and quite a surprising number have been released on CD too.

More generally speaking, the Sun Ra I love best is the 'middle ground', where he didn't go all out into the stratosphere. Sometimes I describe it like this: When they sound "like a high-school marching band on a collective acid trip!!!". (I love that description, and I've been using it for at least 10 years.) The "really out-there" Sun Ra output is interesting to me, sure, but not my favorite Sun Ra.

I like Ra's really "inside" work too (or at least as "inside" as he ever got - for instance, is solo-piano work), but, it's the tunes and albums where he still had lots of real tunes (of his) that I love so much. The ones with firery soloing, but where things didn't get totally out of control, and when they didn't become all-out percussion love-fests.

What are your favorite Sun Ra albums???

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I have a lot of Sun Ra, the whole Evidence label reissue output, the two ESPs, the Delmark reissues, the Savoy, the MPS, and about ten lps that aren't out on cd from the Saturn label, and a few Rounders, and a few things that were never released on lp or cd from collector tapes, videos etc.. . . .

My favorite period is the Chicago period into the early NYC period. Quirky, exploratory, moving stuff. I really am not that fond of the too far out stuff that came later in NYC, Philadelphia etc. nor the later material of old swing arrangements sent into outer space, etc, though I like the later small group material quite a bit.

I guess if I had to pick one or two releases as favorites it would be. . . "Sound of Joy" and "We Travel the Spaceways."

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I am also a big fan of the Chicago period. My favorite Evidence Ra compilation might be "Fate in a Pleasant Mood/When Sun Comes Out." But almost every one of them is excellent. I agree with Jazzbo that "Sound of Joy" and We Travel the Spaceways/Bad and Beautiful are also exceptional. So is "Jazz in Silhouette."

The hard core will check in here soon with the more celebrated highly-experimental stuff from the 60s:

Heliocentric Worlds, the Magic City, Altantis...

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I've got a ton of Sun Ra too, though much of it (all the vinyl anyway) I stumbled on almost by accident, or at least from a fortunate circumstance. About 15 years ago I was working on a big project back in College, about Sun Ra. It was going to be my Senior Honors Project, towards my degree in music. (Didn't turn out to happen, for various reasons. I did get the degree, just didn't do the project.)

But, at the time I was trying to track down as much Sun Ra as I could, on LP, CD, tapes, whatever. I posted some info about my project on-line (back on "BITNET", if anybody remembers those days), and a guy wrote to me saying he had like 25 different Sun Ra LP's, mostly in excellent condition, most of which had never been on CD. About 8 of them were original Saturn LP's, including one from back in the late 50's, and one of the hard-to-find "Horo" double-LP's from Italy, recorded in about 1978 ("Other Voices, Other Blues"), which is an incredible quartet date with Ra, a drummer, Gilmore, and Michael Ray. He wasn't a Ra collector, but had gotten them when he bought some guys entire estate-sale record holdings, in order to get some other (more 'inside') dates. He had kept all the Ra albums together, for several years, rather than sell them off one by one. He knew he had something special, especially the Saturn LP's, most of which were in plain white jackets, several with original (hand-drawn) artwork. He wanted to sell them to one person who would be interested in them all.

As a result, I probably have about 25 Ra CD's, and those same 25 or so LP's. Oh, the guy sold me all the Ra LP's for $100 (total!!), which I think included shipping - this was back in about 1992. (Hell, the Horo double-LP is worth about $50 just by itself now, at least to the right person - and it was hard to find back then too.)

Funny, it's hard for me to pick just a few Ra albums as being my favorites. Much like Frank Zappa, there are tunes all over Ra's catalog that I love, but few albums that I love every single cut on. I really like 'em all, but the "very best of the best" is spread out all over. I'll think it over, and post some more thoughts here later...

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I don't have very much Ra--I expect that soon enough I'll become obsessed and go on a rampage...

Right now, I've got:

Space is the Place (Impulse!)

Nothing Is...

Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 1 & 2

Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy/Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow

Outer Spaceways Incorporated

Singles (Evidence)

Greatest Hits (Evidence)

...What should I get next? I keep hearing that "Jazz in Silhouette" is really nice...

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Anybody have (or heard) the Saturn LP "On Jupiter" from 1979??? The one with the totally kick-ass disco-funk tune on it?? - the tune's called "U.F.O." (Really!! - it really is very funky, and more than a little bit "disco"-like.)

One word: out-fucking-rageous

( "Disco Kid" is on this album too. )

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I really like Sun Ra. I've got most of the Evidence reissues, the ESP's, and a few others.

The one I come back to the most is Jazz in Silhouette. I really love that album.

:rsmile:

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Sun Song (Ra's first full length LP if I'm not mistaken - from 1956) is really a stunner, now that I think of it.

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Yes, Jazz In Silhouette is a great album of Sun Ra, at a time he was still very close to the dominant style of that time, the hard bop, and in the same time already "somewhere else" (and not only because he was alone - and stays alone - to play this style in big band).

But the universe of Sun Ra is more vast than that particular records: Other Planes Of There, The Magic City, Atlantis, Space Is The Place (the vidence one), The Heliocentric Worlds Of Sun Ra (vol 1 specially), Nothing His, Les Nuits de la Fondation Maeght (LPs on the French label Shandar, out of print), Disco 3000 and Sunrise In Different Dimensions, are some of my favorite (but you may like others) and all show how unique this band and how great and out of proportion the genius of the Sun Ra was.

It seems to me that today, Sun Ra doesn't get the recognition the man and his work (from swing and bop to the new thing and back) deserve.

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I've got a few, my favourite by far is Heliocentric Worlds Vol 1. Imo opinion an all time great.

What I want to get is Some Blues But Not The Kind That's BLue. Apart from the title track it's a collection of standards. I heard John Gilmore playing "My Favorite Things" from this album on the radio and I was hooked.

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So far, I only have :

Life is Splendid

Music From Tomorrow's World (which I'm listening to now)

Nothing Is

Nuclear War

I've really only given Life Is Splendid a serious couple of listens and I groove to that. I enjoy the energy; kept me motivated at work the other day. I need to spend more time with the others. I got these four through my subscription to Emusic.

What's the consensus on these? I've read that John Gilmore produced powerful solos on the Sun Ra recordings; that interests me-what should I look for? Thanks guys!

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I would actually like to know where to go next with Sun Ra. I had only heard his work on Walt Dickerson's "Impressions of a Patch of Blue" and really liked what I heard, so I picked up "Atlantis," which is not at all what I expected. I get the impression that this may not have been the right place to start. Can anyone direct me to something a little less experimental? This one is not really growing on me, but it may later. I'd just like to "work" up to it first. Thanks in advance.

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I've got a good amount of Sun Ra on CD, a little from each period, most of it I've found in used bins, believe it or not.

I'm another fan of the Chicago-NYC days. My favorites from this period include Supersonic Jazz, Sound Sun Pleasure, and The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra.

If you are looking for a good middle ground and you don't already have it, The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra is a perfect start.

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I would agree with Mr. C as well: Futuristic Sounds is a good place to start, as are either of the Delmarks, Sun Song, or Sound of Joy.

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I think that Sun Ra and his Arkestra's "Greatest Hits: Easy Listening for Intergalactic Travel" (Evidence ECD 22219-2) is a fine compilation and overview of (and a relatively gentle introduction to) the music worlds of Sun Ra.

I own several Sun Ra recordings. "Jazz In Silhouette", "The Magic City", "Space Is the Place" (Impulse version), and the "Greatest Hits..." compilation get the most play these days.

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Vibes---the Delmarks are a great place to start, not least because they are produced by Tom Wilson (of Transition label fame) so they're sonically cleaner than most other early Sun Ra. Great music too. Supersonic Jazz and Jazz In Silhouette are also good starting places, sort of a sci-fi B-movie version of Ellington. I've also got to second the recommendation for Futuristic Sounds and Greatest Hits, although the latter has some overlap with many other albums of course.

Edited by BruceH

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I love Sun Ra from any time period. His 50's material (especially Sun Song) would be a nice introduction to him, unless you are the go for broke avant nut then you can dive right in to his later material (Concert for Comet K -----). Hey -- has Astro Black been reissued? I have most of the Evidence cds reiddues, but I can't remember if that Impulse date was reissued. That is an amazing lp.

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Has Astro Black been reissued?  I have most of the Evidence cds reiddues, but I can't remember if that Impulse date was reissued.  That is an amazing lp.

No, Astro Black hasn't been issued on CD yet. It's a nice one, recorded in 1972. Hopefully someone will get to it soon...

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'The Singles' 2 CD set was my introduction to the Saturn material. This one never fails to make me chuckle, particularly when the Hokanan vocals and 'Unmask the Batman' come on :g Hearing this set encoraged me to try some of the other Evidence sets such as 'Cosmic Tones..'/'Art Forms..' , 'Atlantis' and 'Strange Strings'. Truly unique - there's nothing on this planet like the music on these disks.

Of course my biggest regret was seeing Ra and Co. live (chaotic but memorable) and not heading up to the stage after the gig to buy some of those home-made Saturn disks .. :(

The 'Greatest Hits' compilation is a great place to start and is very listenable. Superb version of 'Round Midnight' from the 50s Chicago band on this one.

:rhappy:

Edited by sidewinder

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how about that live date on leo with the disney tunes? if that funny or what?

not actually a arkestra date but I like sun ra's piano on billy bang's tribute to stuff smith on sould note/black saint

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how about that live date on leo with the disney tunes? if that funny or what?

not actually a arkestra date but I like sun ra's piano on billy bang's tribute to stuff smith on sould note/black saint

The 'Tribute to Disney' on Leo is totally chaotic music and sound but definitely a hoot. Saw much of this material at a concert by the Arkestra in 1989. One full set was pretty well dedicated to this Disney material. Another set was full of Fletcher Henderson covers. Ra and co. must have played for at least 3 hours that night. Truly amazing stamina !

:rhappy:

Edited by sidewinder

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7DA3C31931324B7AA0D8A2E3C0A269FF.jpg

I have this and a compilation I can't find an image for. Not my favorite stuff, but I've kept them both for further listening. Maybe they will sound better to me further down the line.

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I have only really gotten into Sun Ra in the last year and half. In that time have picked up about 35 of his recordings.

Beside all those already mentioned one that I really enjoy that I don't believe has been mentioned is

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Fate in a Pleasant Mood/When Sun Comes Out."

Cosmic Tones..'/'Art Forms..

Futuristic Sounds

these are probably my favourite Ra's, some of it is just so bizarre, tracks like "Next stop mars" and "Calling Planet Earth" just make be laugh. I think Evidence has done the Ra legacy proud by its excellent releases, their production values are very high. I can't imagine many people being Ra completists- likely to highly frustrating and exceedingly expensive.

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Yeah, being a Sun Ra completist must be kind of like being an Ellington completist----good luck.

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