Friday, June 02, 2017

Sun Ra - Discipline 27-II (Saturn 1973; Strut/Art Yard 2017)

This is a welcome reissue of a rare album from the great cosmic bandleader, keyboardist and composer Sun Ra came which was recorded around the same time period that the film and associated soundtrack to Space Is the Place was recorded. This was a purple patch for the Arkestra with some of their most powerful soloists on board and Ra setting some of his most memorable themes, beginning with "Pan Afro" and "Discipline 8" which have done very intricate ensemble playing with strong percussion, framing keyboards and some really happening horns. Featured is some excellent alto saxophone, presumably from Marshall Allen, that takes the ideas and characteristics of early 1960's Eric Dolphy as a starting point and then constructs a driving improvisation that stretches and pulls at the musical space and time in a very exciting manner. Things start to get a little further out on the track "Neptune" as the band gets into a deeply spiritual and cosmic groove, with chanted vocals from some of the male members of the group giving listeners a news update from the eighth planet along with some solid instrumental accompaniment. The main event is the twenty-four minute long medley "Discipline 27 (Parts 1-4)" which shows Sun Ra and June Tyson both singing, doing some great call and response vocals, beginning with the theme to "Life is Splendid" and then moving into some more social commentary where they rap about laughter, and the music becomes quite unnerving, and you're not sure whether the group is laughing with you or at you. It is a curious arrangement and one that really makes you think and respect Sun Ra for creating music that works on so many levels. This is a very memorable album that definitely deserves the belated recognition that it is receiving. Discipline 27-II - amazon.com

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