|Space age TV: Sun Ra and his interstellar crew go prime-time on NBC's "Saturday Night Live," |
May 20, 1978. From "Jazz: The First Century"
I got to see Sun Ra and his Arkestra a half-dozen times, mostly in Chicago, but later in New York City, too. It was always a trip to be in the presence of Mr. Mystery. You never were quite sure what to expect. Would Ra lead his men into an interplanetary miasma of free-jazz improv with Marshall Allen frantically fanning the keys on his weathered alto and Ahmed Abdullah issuing mighty trumpet blasts while balanced precariously on one leg on his chair? Would Ra revisit his distant past with a raggy arrangement of a hoary Fletcher Henderson number? Would John Gilmore be there? Danny Bank or Pat Patrick?
|The Sunrise: Ra fans it for the fans at the 1980 Chicago Jazz|
Festival. Photo by Lauren Deutsch
I knew about Ra from my high school days when, at the Boston Tea Party one evening, I was assaulted by a quintet from Detroit. I say "assaulted," because that's what a performance by the MC5 was like in those days. Those greasy guys were positively scary. But they did a tune called "Rocket No. 9" which they dedicated to something called "Sun Ra." I was just beginning to learn about jazz, and it wasn't too long after that encounter that I knew all about Herman Blount and his idiosyncratic approach to music and life.
Fast forward to Chicago in the mid-'70s. I was in graduate school and buying up all the jazz records I could find. One place that was a record-fiend's mecca was the Jazz Record Mart at 7 W. Grand. Home of Delmark Records, the bailiwick of Bob Koester, the place was filled to the rafters with sides of all varieties, formats, styles, conditions and value. If it came over the transom and was playable, Koester would sell it. His pricing priorities were hard to figure, but his wares were nearly always offered at a reasonable cost.
One artist's sides nearly always wound up in the bargain bin. Yeah, that's right – Sun Ra was a stiff as far as Koester was concerned. I guess Bob had seen so many of Ra's privately issued LPs that he just couldn't get rid of them fast enough. They came in all manner of hand-decorated covers, some with liner notes taped to their backsides. There were even original Saturn issues from the late '50s, Classic LPs like "Monorails and Satellites" or "Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy." Most could be had for $1.59. Some I picked up for 79 cents. Good deal.
|Bob Koester in his element, a few years before I got there. Wish|
I'd been around to grab a few of those Prestige Jams for a quarter.
As always, these tunes were ripped from the original vinyl with, in both cases, no tinkering with the sound whatsoever.
The Invisible Shield • Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Research Arkestra
El Saturn Records 144000
1-6: New York, NY, 1962; 7-9: New York, NY or Philadelphia, PA, 1970
1. State Street (Ra)
Sun Ra, p; Walter Miller, tp; Al Evans, flg; Ali Hassan, tb; Marshall Allen, as, fl;
John Gilmore, ts; Pat Patrick, bs; Michael White, vln; Ronnie Boykins, b; Clifford Jarvis, d.
2. Sometimes I’m Happy (Caesar-Youmans)
Sun Ra, p; John Gilmore, ts; Ronnie Boykins, b; Clifford Jarvis, d.
3. Time After Time 1 (Cahn-Styne)
4. Time After Time 2 (Cahn-Styne)
Sun Ra, p; Walter Miller, tp; Ronnie Boykins, b; Clifford Jarvis, d.
5. Easy to Love (Porter)
6. Sunnyside Up (DeSylva-Brown)
Sun Ra, p; Walter Miller, tp; John Gilmore, ts; Ronnie Boykins, b; Clifford Jarvis, d.
7. Island in the Sun (Ra)
8. The Invisible Shield (Ra)
9. Janus (Ra)
Sun Ra, p, org, Mini-Moog syn; Marshall Allen, as, fl, picc; Danny Davis, as, acl;
John Gilmore, ts, perc; Danny Ray Thompson, bsn/ Neptunian libflecto/ lunatic fagott
(on The Invisible Shield), perc; Ben Henderson (Jaribu Shahid), b; Art Jenkins, ancestral African vocal and space voice (on Janus), other members of the band, bells and percussion.
Find it here: https://www.mediafire.com/?pfidddt2kjd6x1d
Media Dream • Sun Ra and His Arkestra
El Saturn Records 19783
Sun Ra, org, p, Crumar Mainman organ, drum box, etc.;
Michael Ray, tp; John Gilmore, ts; Luqman Ali, d.
Live in Italy, January 9, 1978
1. Saturn Research (Ra)
2. Constellation (Ra)
3. Yera of the Sun (Ra)
4. Media Dreams (Ra)
5. Twigs at Twilight (Ra)
6. An Unbeknowneth Love (Ra)
Find it here: https://www.mediafire.com/?zzjb2tbp8oo0wuc