Your comment - all comments are moderated. Your name [optional] Pseudonyms welcome. Your email [optional] Never spammed or displayed. Your website [optional] Used to link to you. Chris Reid. David Kulas. Daniel Karrer. Peter Tomatz. Henry Webster. Forrest L Norvell. Austin Wiles. Nick Watts. Sloop Jon B. Waldo Jeffers. Greg O'Keefe. Rob Shearer. This albums foreshadows what Miles Davis would do with bebop and is a beautiful milestone in the progression of Jazz.
I am a Sun Ra rookie. I heard of him, but never heard him. So, unlike other reviewers here, this is my first Sun Ra album. And I love it. More precisely, I think that its a masterpiece. One of those albums you here and just know you discovered a wide new world.
Music will never sound the same again! See all reviews. Top reviews from other countries. Translate all reviews to English. Verified Purchase. Sun Ra is one of the musicians I have always kept an ear open but whose music never really seemed to warrant the enthusiasm I have witnessed contemporary players like Craig Taborn. At best, the music I have heard had been enjoyable yet it hasn't really merited the comparisons to Duke Ellington or Gil Evans that some people have suggested.
The albums can be a varying experience with the worst offerings being absolutely dreadful. This record from the late s is easily the "go to" disc if you are looking to explore Sun Ra's music. The album comes across as a slightly eccentric Shorty Rogers album - think of the kind of music that might have existed if Rogers had written the score for "Lost in space" and you get the impression.
Sun Ra's music in this era was often tightly arranged and sometimes reminiscent of Duke Ellington 's, Count Basie's, or other important swing music ensembles. However, there was a strong influence from post-swing styles like bebop , hard bop , and modal jazz , and touches of the exotic and hints of the experimentalism that dominated his later music.
Ronnie Boykins , Sun Ra's bassist, has been described as "the pivot around which much of Sun Ra's music revolved for eight years. After the move to New York, Sun Ra and company plunged headlong into the experimentalism that they had only hinted at in Chicago. The music was often extremely loud and the Arkestra grew to include multiple drummers and percussionists.
In recordings of this era, Ra began to use new technologies—such as extensive use of tape delay—to assemble spatial sound pieces that were far removed from earlier compositions such as Saturn.
Recordings and live performances often featured passages for unusual instrumental combinations, and passages of collective playing that incorporated free improvisation.
It is often difficult to tell where compositions end and improvisations begin. In this era, Sun Ra began conducting using hand and body gestures. This system inspired cornetist Butch Morris , who later developed his own more highly refined way to conduct improvisers.
Though often associated with avant-garde jazz, Sun Ra did not believe his work could be classified as "free music": "I have to make sure that every note, every nuance, is correct If you want to call it that, spell it p-h-r-e , because ph is a definite article and re is the name of the sun.
So I play phre music — music of the sun. Seeking to broaden his compositional possibilities, Sun Ra insisted all band members double on various percussion instruments — predating world music by drawing on various ethnic musical forms — and most saxophonists became multireedists , adding instruments such as flutes, oboes, or clarinets to their arsenals.
In this era, Sun Ra was among the first of any musicians to make extensive and pioneering use of synthesizers and other various electronic keyboards ; he was given a prototype Minimoog by its inventor, Robert Moog.
Ra immediately added the instrument to his repertoire of keyboards, later acquired a second, and featured the Minimoog prominently on many of his recordings of the early s.
During their third period, beginning in the s, Sun Ra and the Arkestra settled down into a relatively conventional sound, often incorporating swing standards, although their records and concerts were still highly eclectic and energetic, and typically included at least one lengthy, semi-improvised percussion jam. Sun Ra was explicitly asserting a continuity with the ignored jazz tradition: "They tried to fool you, now I got to school you, about jazz, about jazz" he chanted in concerts,  framing the inclusion of pieces by Fletcher Henderson and Jelly Roll Morton.
In the s Sun Ra took a liking to the films of Walt Disney. He incorporated smatterings of Disney musical numbers into many of his performances from then on. In the late s the Arkestra performed a concert at Walt Disney World. The Arkestra's version of " Pink Elephants on Parade " is available on Stay Awake , a tribute album of Disney tunes played by various artists and produced by Hal Willner. A number of Sun Ra's s concerts are available on CD, but none have received a wide release in comparison to his earlier music.
In —80 performances, Sun Ra added a large electronic creation, the Outerspace Visual Communicator, which produced images rather than sounds; this was performed at a keyboard by its inventor, Bill Sebastian. During concerts, the OVC usually was positioned at center stage behind the Arkestra while Sebastian sat on stage with the musicians.
Dozens of musicians—perhaps hundreds—passed through Sun Ra's bands over the years. Some stayed with him for decades, while others played on only a few recordings or performances. Sun Ra was personally responsible for the vast majority of the constant changes in the Arkestra's lineup.
According to contrabassist Jiunie Booth , a member of the Arkestra, Sun Ra did not confront any musician whose performance he was unsatisfied with. Instead, he would simply gather the entire Arkestra minus the offending musician, and skip town—leaving the fired musician stranded. The following is a partial list of musical collaborators, and the eras when they played with Sun Ra or the Arkestra:.
The OVC was a giant machine, played with hands and feet, that allowed artists to create and finger-paint with light similar to how musicians create and explore sound with their instruments. The name of the instrument arose from Bill Sebastian's collaboration with Sun Ra. Sun Ra incorporated the OVC into the Arkestra from and experimented with Bill on video applications from to John Bishop, of Video Magazine, stated of the OVC that "the emotional energy of the visuals equals and at times surpasses that of the music.
The images are not slaves to the sounds but function the way a dancer does; interpreting, harmonizing, and enlarging the space created by the music. Sun Ra's world view was often described as a philosophy, but he rejected this term, describing his own manner as an "equation" and saying that while philosophy was based on theories and abstract reasoning, his method was based on logic and pragmatism. Many of the Arkestra cite Sun Ra's teachings as pivotal and for inspiring such long-term devotion to the music that they knew would never make them much money.
His equation was rarely if ever explained as a whole; instead, it was related in bits and pieces over many years, leading some to doubt that he had a coherent message. However, Martinelli argues that, when considered as a whole, one can discern a unified world view that draws upon many sources, but is also unique to Sun Ra, writing:.
Sun Ra presents a unified conception, incorporating music, myth, and performance into his multi-leveled equations. Every aspect of the Sun Ra experience, from business practices like Saturn Records to published collections of poetry to his year career in music, is a manifestation of his equations.
Sun Ra seeks to elevate humanity beyond their current earthbound state, tied to outmoded conceptions of life and death when the potential future of immortality awaits them. As Hall has put it, 'In this era of 'practical' things men ridicule even the existence of God. They scoff at goodness while they ponder with befuddled minds the phantasmagoria of materiality.
They have forgotten the path which leads beyond the stars. He drew on sources as diverse as the Kabbalah , Rosicrucianism , channeling , numerology , Freemasonry , Ancient Egyptian Mysticism , and black nationalism. Sun Ra's system had distinct Gnostic leanings,  arguing that the god of most monotheistic religions was not the creator god, not the ultimate god, but a lesser, evil being.
Sun Ra was wary of the Bible, knowing that it had been used to justify slavery. He often re-arranged and re-worded Biblical passages and re-worked many other words, names, or phrases in an attempt to uncover "hidden" meanings. The most obvious evidence of this system was Ra's practice of renaming many of the musicians who played with him. And a lot of times it was humorous, and a lot of times it was ridiculous, and a lot of times it was right on the money.
According to Szwed,  Sun Ra's view of his relationship to black people and black cultures "changed drastically" over time.
Initially, Sun Ra identified closely with broader struggles for black power, black political influence, and black identity, and saw his own music as a key element in educating and liberating blacks. Like therapy, if you will. This abrasive, futuristic composition features echoing percussion, with Marshall Allen softening the various drums with his beautiful oboe. Individual tracks aside, this is an album that should be enjoyed in its entirety. Take it what for what it is — a free-flowing expression of something that means more than it can appear to be.
As always, Sun Ra allows us a cryptic insight in to the thematic context of his music, with the liner notes provided for this record. To exemplify this futuristic approach to his music, Sun Ra would experiment with instruments that enabled him to create otherworldly sounds.
The Clavinet sounds poignantly ultramodern, and acts as a musical platform, propelling us forward in to the futuristic world that Sun Ra wished to create. Sun Ra was a master of improvisation, which is exhibited handsomely throughout this album. Fearless In the way that he played, you can actually hear the thumps and thuds when Sun Ra slams his fists and palms down on his Clavinet.
Space is the Place was released one year before the film which bears the same title, and acts almost as an aperitif for what was to come. Space is the Place is a record that features a list of songs that will conscientiously invigorate your otherworldly consciousness. Space is the Place shows the wild versatility of Sun Ra as a band leader and composer.
A Quiet Place in the Universe. Calling Planet Earth. Org Music. Outer Space Employment Agency. Total Energy. At the Village Vanguard. Life Is Splendid. Song for the Sun. Stardust from Tomorrow. Friendly Galaxy. It Is Forbidden. Live at Montreux. Live in Paris at the Gibus. Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol. Spaceship Lullaby Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, Vol. Live at Myron's Ballroom. Dance of the Living Image. Space Aura. My Way Is the Spaceways.
Continuation, Vol. Duke Ellington's Sound of Space. Squatty Roo Records. Strange City. Cold Spring Records. Crystal Spears.Jul 17, · Recorded at El Saturn Studio, Chicago, this album is generally considered to be one of Sun Ra’s best works from his period there. Since hailed as an overlooked masterpiece, Jazz In Silhouette perfectly encapsulates how the Arkestra would remain faithful to the jazz tradition of Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson, but also be looking toward the future of the music they had studied and mastered under Ra.