Friday, November 30, 2007

Sun Ra - Mayan Temples (Black Saint, 1990)

During his last years on the planet, keyboardist, composer and bandleader Sun Ra consolidated all of the music he had spent a lifetime playing and at his best like on this wonderful album he combined pre -war swing, far out free jazz and abstract expressionism into a cohesive whole like no other. A large group recording, this album features some of Ra's longest serving colleagues like tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, altoist Marshall Allen, vocalist June Tyson and fellow travelers like trumpeter Michael Ray. Highlights include a righteous version of the classic Sun Ra theme written during his star in Chicago, "El is the Sound of Joy" as well is the tenor saxophone fueled "Opus in Springtime." "Theme of the Stargazers" is the centerpiece, clocking in at nearly fifteen minutes, moving from abstract percussion to swinging riff laden big band jazz. This is a wonderful album and proves that Sun Ra was truly creative right up until the end. It's also a fine place to make his acquaintance if you are unfamiliar with him, as it has examples from the breadth of his music.

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