Friday, October 10, 2014

Capsules 10/10: Sun Ra

Sun Ra - Secrets of the Sun (Enterplanetary Koncepts, 2014) This rare Sun Ra LP has been remastered and published on iTunes with extra tracks, and it is well worth checking out. Recorded in 1962 with Ra stalwarts Marshall Allen, Pat Patrick, John Gilmore, Ronnie Boykins and Tommy Hunter, this album captures the band moving from their swing based past into the avant-garde path they would follow from the mid-1960's through the 70's. Highlight of the album include the exciting "Solar Differentials" and the chanting buoyed music of the "Reflects Motion" suite. Part two of the suite is particularly impressive with some epic and powerful drumming and a powerful trumpet feature accompanied by Ra's strong piano. The band uses a lot of reverberation on this album, as displayed on Part one of the suite, where flute bounces all over the chanting and the percussion. This is a very good album and a fascinating look at the band in transition. Secrets of the Sun - iTunes.

Sun Ra - Atlantis (Enterplanetary Koncepts, 2014) Recorded in 1969 (another expanded iTunes remaster,) Atlantis is one of Sun Ra's crowning achievements. There are five relatively short tracks that feature the band primarily playing percussion instrument to create a pummeling edifice of sound that Sun Ra can improvise over with a fleet or keyboards including clavoline and organ, making a fascinating and slightly ominous sound on the two-part "Yucatan" and the potent "Bimini." But these pale in comparison to the colossal nearly 22 minute long title track "Atlantis". Sun Ra leads his band in search of the ancient city beginning with sonar like bleeps from his keyboard before the whole band slowly comes in and builds the intensity to an a almost unbearable level as if to re-create in sound the cataclysmic disaster that ended the Atlantean civilization, before the band suddenly begins to chant that Sun Ra and his band have been here to entertain you!. There is nothing quite like this in the Ra canon or jazz as a whole for that matter and it truly must be heard to be believed. Atlantis - iTunes.

Send comments to Tim.