Friday, January 25, 2019

Sun Ra - God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be (Cosmic Myth Records, 2018)

This is a fascinating entry in Sun Ra's voluminous discography, a acoustic piano trio recording with Hayes Burnett on bass and Samarai Celestial (Eric Walker) on drums, one so unique that it is the only complete piano, bass and drums studio session in the massive Sun Ra discography and these songs would never be revisited. "Days of Happiness" is the opening track, setting an open ended medium tempo feeling, where the trio works very well together playing as a strong unit, improvising collectively and allowing the music to flow evenly. Ra plays across the top of the piano, giving the music a bright feeling and framing some solid bowed bass playing. The open nature of the music allows the dynamism to work organically, alternating crashing flows with quieter ebbs. "Magic City Blue" has a low down feeling with bluesy rolling piano, carrying the bass and drums in tow creating a deep groove and pocket. Ra develops a strutting swinging strut like something he would have played back in his Chicago days, storming across the keyboard while anchored by thick bass and nimble drums. Quieter and more relaxed, "Tenderness" calms the music down with a ballad feature, playing in a subtle and restrained manner, with Ra playing a pretty theme but also shading it with percussive asides on the piano. Lest anyone get too comfortable, Ra plays with the tempo and volume, not overwhelmingly so, but enough to keep everyone on their toes. "Blithe Spirit Dance" is the longest track on the album, moving briskly along with the band percolating together. The drummer is a little busy, but Ra is unflappable and plays spacey notes against his nervous percussion, allowing the band to draw from the contrast, and the leader bounces along grandly, adding stabbing chords and ripping runs up through the keyboard. He adds elements of the blues and boogie, and pulls out the rug for unexpected free improvisation on this very impressing performance. The title track "God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be" has a Monk like spare opening, aided by thick elastic bass and more patient drumming, the track evokes a sense of mystery, and Ra's delicate unique piano playing is at the heart of it. God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be - amazon.com

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