Friday, April 25, 2008

Sun Ra - Media Dreams (Art Yard, 2008)

Media Dreams documents an unusual but interesting Sun Ra performance in Italy in 1978 with only a quartet instead of his usual Arkestra. Ra performs on a battery of electronics along with organ and piano, accompanied by John Gilmore on tenor saxophone, Michael Ray on trumpet and Luqman Ali on drums. Ray gets a lengthy spitfire solo on “Images” before Ra and Ali engage in an electronics and drums section. Gilmore then muscles his way in and blows the roof off with a titanic solo statement of his own. Ra responds by switching to some splendid post-bop piano improv, percussive in a Monkish way, it is fascinating to hear, followed by a drum solo from Ali. It is a sprawling, all-encompassing performance, and touches on all the aspects of what made Ra's music so special. Truly an epic performance. “The Truth About Planet Earth” has sung and chanted vocals, as does the short and sweet version of the Ra standard “Space Is the Place” Sound quality does become an issue, especially on the second disc, with fluctuations in volume noticeable. There is a short but serviceable liner essay included that sets the music in its historical context. Art Yard has done a fine job picking up the torch for the Evidence label and conducting well researched and packaged reissues for the sprawling Ra catalog.

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