Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sun Ra - Disco 3000 (Art Yard, 2007)

Art Yard Records has been doing some wonderful vinyl re-issues of rare Sun Ra albums, and this two-disc set marks their first foray into compact discs. This is now the complete concert that Sun Ra presented in Milan, Italy in 1978 and originally released as a Saturn LP. Instead of the Arkestra, this is an unusual small band consisting of Ra on a battery of keyboards, John Gilmore on tenor saxophone, Luqman Ali on drums, Michael Ray on trumpet, and June Tyson on vocals. It is very interesting to hear Ra in a small group context, and he's really playing up a storm on organ, mini-moog, and piano. He really dominates the musical proceedings, as opposed to playing and conducting as part of a large ensemble. John Gilmore gets a lot of space to stretch out as well, and he plays very well, and you can really hear his saxophone technique that influenced John Coltrane among others. Michael Ray sounds good as well, using smears and growls to punctuate his playing. The opening medley is entitled "Disco 3000" despite encompassing "Space is the Place" and other Ra themes. This sets the tone for the concert with freewheeling improvisation and spontaneous soloing.There are some really nice acoustic piano features for Ra in this concert as well, rare opportunities to hear him improvising in a piano trio format. The sound quality is quite good for an archival Sun Ra release and the packaging and liner notes are done well. This is another quality production from Art Yard who has set a very high standard and continues to live up to it.

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