Strut present the definitive edition of Sun Ra’s classic ‘Lanquidity’ album from 1978 with brand new 4LP box set and 2CD editions, featuring the widely distributed version of the album alongside alternative mixes by Bob Blank originally released in limited quantities for a 1978 Arkestra gig at Georgia Tech. Recorded overnight at Bob Bank’s Blank Tapes on 17th July 1978 after the Arkestra had appeared on Saturday Night Live, the album is unique in the Ra catalogue. “Most critics felt that it was more of a fusion-inspired record,” explains Michael Ray. “As the name suggests, the album is liquid and languid.” Bob Blank continues, “Musically, it was very ad hoc and freeform. There were horn charts but most tracks came out of improvised jams. Sun Ra just did his thing.” Comprising five effortlessly fluid pieces, the album eases in with Lanquidity. Danny Ray Thompson remembers, “This was one of Sun Ra’s on-the-spot compositions. It is almost like an Ancient Egyptian Stargazing Ceremony, mapping out the stars and the planets.” Where Pathways Meet is “Sun Ra’s funky version of an Egyptian march. Pharaoh is sending his troops off to fight and this is his pep-talk!” continues Thompson. “The music seems to take different pathways but still converges.” The loping groove of That’s How I Feel, features the reflective trumpet lines of Eddie Gale with solos by John Gilmore and Marshall Allen: “Marshall comes in with that snake charming oboe.” Says Thompson. The funky Twin Stars Of Thence weaves around Richard Williams celebrated elastic bassline while the haunting closer, There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of), is pure “space music.” The poet Mama Nzinga described it as ‘The essence of light. Spirit takes a ride inside the deep dark space of just being.”
Asolutely stellar jazz from Sun Ra alongside John Gilmore, Luqman Ali & Michael Ray. This quartet version of the title song appeared on 1978’s ‘New Steps’ LP. Over on the flip is the ‘Alien vocal version’ of Somewhere In Space, recorded in 1957. Two expertly plucked out (fully licensed) Sun Ra essentials, presented on a heavyweight (70gram) Art Yard styled 7″.
The planets align this October as the mighty Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of the maestro Marshall Allen, release their first studio album in over twenty years, ‘Swirling’. Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, the new recording represents the continuation of a heartfelt rebirth of the Arkestra under Allen’s guidance since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, gaining new generations of followers from their regular touring across the globe. With a big band line-up featuring long-standing Arkestra members including Danny Ray Thompson (RIP), Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Knoel Scott, Cecil Brooks, Atakatune (RIP), Elson Nascimento and Tyler Mitchell, the album is a full-blooded celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy. Tracks include brand new arrangements of Arkestra staples ‘Angels And Demons At Play’, ‘Satellites Are Spinning’, ‘Door Of The Cosmos’ and ‘Rocket No. 9’ alongside lesser known gems; the rousing blues ‘Darkness’ is recorded here for the first time, resurrected from the Ra archives by Marshall Allen. Other highlights include an epic version of ‘Seductive Fantasy’ (first recorded on Ra’s ‘On Jupiter’ LP in 1979), the freeform sonic blast of ‘Infinity / I’ll Wait For You’ and a first ever recording of the Marshall Allen swing composition, ‘Swirling’. “We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration,” states saxophonist Knoel Scott. “We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.” “This new release is the Arkestra’s love offering to the world,” concludes Marshall Allen. “Beta music for a better world.”
You can count on Art Yard to replenish our jazz charts with the very best material from the great Sun Ra, whether that’s them putting out previously unreleased material or simply reissuing some of their already excellent material. This time, we have a tidy repress of the mythical “Disco 3000”, cited by many as Ra’s nuttiest piece of work or, in fact, a segment of music which totally made – and arguably finished – the free jazz sound. It’s a ride – if you haven’t heard it already then pounce on it! On the B-side, the magnificent “Third Planet/Friendly Galaxy/Dance Of The Cosmos-Aliens” is pure heaven for all those with an itch for some innovative drum machine patterns, as Ra goes further than anyone else ever did with some drums, organ and…are those effects? Legendary stuff!
A mixture of live recording and studio post-production, ‘On Jupiter’ sounds unique to any other album Sun Ra made. The Arkestra reflects a disco pulse right back on itself, and delivers one of the most cohesive albums of their career. The title track is a masterpiece of gentle atonal harmony, while ‘UFO’ pushes along at a cracking disco-ish pace with fierce brass and spacey dub effects. This a timeless Ra classic.
Strut and Art Yard present another exclusive from the vast catalogue of cosmic jazz pioneer Sun Ra: a previously unreleased radio session most likely recorded at the WXPN FM radio studios in Philadelphia, 1974-5. This newly discovered session features a new version of Ra’s earlier ‘Island In The Sun’, a romping, raucous rendition of ‘Unmask The Batman’ and the first studio recording of ‘I’ll Wait For You’ There is no bass player on the sessions and Ra’s left hand beats out a rhythmic bass pattern on the piano. All tracks are remastered directly from the original tapes. The album package features a newly commissioned painting by legendary Bristol urban artist Guy Denning and new sleeve notes by Paul Griffiths. Recently discovered in the Sun Ra archive, the recording forms part of a series of sessions that Ra and the Arkestra recorded for WXPN-FM between 1974 and 1980.
Thanks to some inspired detective work by Art Yard Records, an intimate trio performance by Sun Ra in Rome in 1977, ‘In Some Far Place’, is receiving its first release. Recorded from the sound desk and mastered from original reels, the album features Sun Ra on piano and Moog, drummer Luqman Ali and occasional Arkestra vocalist Thomas Thaddeus in fine form, exploring Ra staples and revisiting some of the traditional jazz pieces from his early Chicago days. Tracks include the reflective ‘Trying To Put The Blame On Me,’ ‘Spontaneous Simplicity’ and the first Sun Ra version of ‘I Cover The Waterfront’ to ever be officially released. New sleeve notes come courtesy of the Arkestra’s Knoel Scott with cover design by Lewis Heriz.
Machine Drum applies his spur of the moment style to the 1979 Sun Ra classic Door Of The Cosmos. A slightly different take from the previous two, but equally as experimental in its own right, his trademark frenetic psychedelic high speed beats are at work here for a truly unique interpretation of one of Sun Ra’s most recognizable works. All the covers come with bespoke cover art via Stephen Serrato and photographer Simon Wald-Lasowski and this looks like their best yet.