Monday, March 14, 2005

Bittorrent – Sun Ra Arkestra – Newport, RI 7/3/69

It must have been quite a trip to see the Sun Ra band in full regalia accompanied by dancers and a light show at the Newport Jazz Festival – I wonder what the millionaires in their sailboats thought of the whole deal? A long way from “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” I guess. John Zwed quotes Dan Morganstern in Downbeat as reviewing this performance as “sloppy but effective” and that assessment is borne out by this somewhat crude audience recording.

Ra and the band play many of their familiar themes from the period, such as “Enlightenment” and “We Travel the Spaceways” and singer June Tyson scores some very impressive vocal performances. It’s the music itself that seems angry and unfocused, perhaps the groups just wasn’t comfortable in such rarified surroundings. Ra’s synthesizer explorations which are usually succinct tend to noodle and wander while the horns are not as crisp and tight as usual. Regardless, it was this performance along with the group’s brief association with the Impulse! Record label that began to raise the bands profile and increase their exposure to new audiences.

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