Friday, December 05, 2014


A great run of 80s work from Sun Ra – and some of his best-known records from the time! First up is Reflections In Blue – a later classic from Sun Ra – a record that bears one of his most beautiful cover shots ever! The record's got a wonderfully tight feel – a sound that's often not as out as Saturn sides, and which shows Ra's ability to lead a larger ensemble with a very complex sound – drawing on Ellingtonish roots, but inflecting them with his own space-tuned sensibilities! Players include Tyrone Hill on trombone, Pat Patrick on alto and clarinet, Marshall Allen on alto and flute, John Gilmore on tenor and clarinet, and James Jacson on bassoon and african drums – and Ra himself plays synth as well as piano. Titles include "Yesterdays", "Say It Isn't So", and the originals "State Street Chicago" and "Reflections In Blue". 

Hours After is a strange little late record from Sun Ra – late night, soulful and bluesy, with a sound that's in keeping with the traditionalism of the late Arkestra! The group's an all-star one – Pat Patrick, Danny Thompson, Marshall Allen, and John Gilmore – and Ra sings a bit on the session. Side B of the session steps out a bit more from the first side – which is the more traditional one – and Ra plays a bit of synthesizer, in a 70s avant kind of mode. Titles include "Dance Of The Extra Terrestrians", "Love On A Far Away Planet", "Hours After", and "Beautiful Love". 

Mayan Temples is a studio set recorded in Italy in 1990, and one that draws strongly from the tightening of tradition the Arkestra experienced in the 80s – working at a time of some of their greatest acceptance by jazz audiences worldwide, and able to express themselves fully in a range of different modes! The sense of tone and timing here is beautiful – almost Ellington-like at points, but still with a decidedly Sun Ra-like quality – and players on the date include Michael Ray and Ahmed Abdullah on trumpets, John Gilmore on tenor, Noel Scott and Marshall Allen on alto sax, and Tyrone Hill on trombone – and June Tyson also sings just a bit on the set. Ra plays both piano and synth, and titles include "Alone Together", "Discipline 1", "Sunset On The River Nile", "El Is The Sound Of Joy", "I'll Never Be The Same", "Theme On The Stargazers", and "Opus In Springtime". A double-length set too – nearly 80 minutes of music! 

Last up is A Tribute To Stuff Smith – an unusual session that features Billy Bang on violin, Andrew Cyrille on drums, and Sun Ra on piano – all in tribute to legendary violinist Stuff Smith.  ~ Dusty Groove

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