Friday, July 19, 2019

Sun Ra - 1972 - Nuits de la Fondation Maeght volume II

Sun Ra
1972
Nuits de la Fondation Maeght volume II 
(aka Fondation Maeght Nights)



01. Friendly Galaxy Number 2 8:46
02. Spontaneous Simplicity 10:50
03. The World Of The Lightening 5:54
04. Black Myth 8:32
05. The Shadows Took Shape
06. This Strange World
07. Journey Through The Outer Darkness
08. Sky 2:01

 Alto Saxophone, Flute, Oboe, Percussion, Piccolo Flute – Marshall Allen
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Percussion – Danny Davis
Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Percussion – Pat Patrick
Baritone Saxophone [Saxo Baryton], Bassoon, Flute – Danny Thompson
Bass Clarinet, Drums – Robert Cummings
Bass, Cello, Violin – Alan Silva
Clarinet, Flute, Alto Saxophone [Saxo Alto] – Absholom Ben Shlomo
Clarinet, Flute, Oboe, Percussion [Percussions] – Jame Jacson
Drums – Nimrod Hunt
Drums, Percussion – Lex Humphries
Drums, Timpani – John Goldsmith
Synthesizer [Moog], Piano, Electric Piano, Electric Organ, Performer [Intergalactic Instruments], Composed By, Lyrics By [Poèmes] – Sun Ra
Tenor Saxophone [Saxo Ténor], Drums – John Gilmore
Trumpet – Kwame Hadi
Trumpet, Cornet – Ahk Tal Ebah
Vibraphone, Drums – Rashied Salim IV
Vocals – Gloristeena Knight, June Tyson, Verta Grosvenor

Recorded live at Saint Paul de Vence, France, 3/5 August 1970. Compositions and Poems by Sun Ra. Intergalactic instruments played by Sun Ra.



This is the second of two 7" EPs derived from Sun Ra and his Arkestra's August 1970 run at the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght (1970). Historically noteworthy is that the Saint Paul de Vence, Côte d'Azur, France, shows marked the first time the extended aggregate would play for a European audience. Their excitement translates into what is unquestionably one of the strongest live documents to exist from this period. Many potential listeners may be initially dismayed at the seeming discord that is inherent in the free and avant-garde subgenres. For them, Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol. 2 might be a good starting place as it offers up a variety of styles from within the open-ended framework. "Friendly Galaxy Number 2" is a brooding and edgy mid-tempo affair, highlighted by the rhythm section's smouldering restraint beneath the alternately plaintive and sinuous wails from Alan Silva (violin). This segues into the entire Arkestra as it joins in on a carefree and buoyant "Spontaneous Simplicity." Once again, Silva shines, albeit this time on electric bass guitar. His syncopated pulsations are viscous enough to ably swaddle the aggressive percussive ensemble. On this piece, Ra's electric piano runs are among his most melodic, as he gently weaves around the well-placed chord progressions. The brass section also reasserts itself for some stellar interaction at the song's conclusion. "The World of Lightning" may have been the Arkestra's encore, judging by the rhythmic applause from the audience at the beginning of the song. After preliminary disjointed inflections from Ra's Mini Moog and John Goldsmith's percussive gong and tympani interjections, Marshall Allen (sax) provides blistering leads atop of what evolves into a full-blown and substantial Arkestra assault. This somewhat abruptly resolves into a profound, if not definitive reading of the epic "Black Myth," commencing with June Tyson's spoken "The Shadows Took Shape" and "The Strange World" recitations. The band counters with incisive precision, which trails into a ferocious bout of the Moog from Ra during the "Journey Through the Outer Darkness" movement. "Sky" is a brief concluding solo from Allen on haubois -- a predecessor to the modern-day oboe -- that cuts off mid-stream. Enthusiasts should note, both volumes of the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght were issued on CD from an excellent quality tape [read: non-vinyl] source on Comet Records in 2003.

Sun Ra - 1971 - Nuits de la Fondation Maeght volume I

Sun Ra
1971
Nuits de la Fondation Maeght volume I 
(aka Fondation Maeght Nights)


01. Enlightment 2:56
02. The Star Gazers 3:08
03. Shadow World 13:20
04. The Cosmic Explorer 19:45

Alto Saxophone, Flute, Percussion – Danny Davis
Alto Saxophone, Flute, Piccolo Flute, Oboe – Marshall Allen
Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Clarinet, Percussion – Pat Patrick
Baritone Saxophone, Bassoon, Flute – Danny Ray Thompson
Bass Clarinet, Drums – Robert Cummings
Bass, Cello, Violin – Alan Silva
Clarinet, Flute, Alto Saxophone – Absholom Ben Shlomo
Clarinet, Flute, Oboe, Percussion – James Jacson
Drums – Nimrod Hunt
Drums, Percussion – Lex Humphries
Drums, Timpani – John Goldsmith
Synthesizer [Moog], Piano, Electric Piano, Organ [Electric], Composed By – Sun Ra
Tenor Saxophone, Drums – John Gilmore
Trumpet – Kwame Hadi
Trumpet, Cornet – Akh Tal Ebah
Vibraphone, Drums – Rashied Salim IV
Vocals – Gloristeena Knight, John Gilmore (tracks: A1), June Tyson (tracks: A1, A2), Verta Grosvenor

Recorded live at Saint Paul de Vence, France, 3/5 August 1970. Compositions and Poems by Sun Ra. Intergalactic instruments played by Sun Ra.


Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol. 1 (1970) is the first of two releases capturing Sun Ra and the Arkestra at Saint Paul de Vence, Côte d'Azur, France, in August of 1970, on what was their first European excursion. As a rule, free and avant-garde jazz are a decidedly acquired taste. However, for discerning palettes, these installments present the aggregate at their absolute pinnacle in terms of performance and inspiration. The four works included here offer a wide variety of styles and approaches, proving that the combo were far more multifaceted and involved than often given credit for. "Enlightenment" is a suitable opener, featuring a vocal duet between June Tyson (vocals) and John Gilmore (tenor sax/drums/vocals). This ambles subtly into another brief lyric on "The Star Gazers," followed by an inventive and elaborate piano solo from Ra. The bandleader is clearly enthused throughout, translating in what is perceived as even quicker and more potent inflections. These continue during a full-ensemble reading of "Shadow World," which is given a worthy workout. The flurry and fury in Marshall Allen's alto sax are countered with more of Ra's highly intricate assertions. One of the most inspired keyboard performances from Ra is the appropriately titled "Cosmic Explorer." There are moments that vacillate from terrifying to sublime as the artist methodically investigates the sounds, carefully constructing his progressive arrangements. Much like the Arkestra presentation, Ra's solos are complex, more than making up for any lack of structure with a motivated performance. Enthusiasts should note that both volumes of Nuits de la Fondation Maeght were issued on CD from an excellent quality tape (read: non-vinyl) source on Comet Records in 2003.

Sun Ra - 1971 - The Solar-Myth Approach Volume II

Sun Ra
1971
The Solar-Myth Approach Volume II



01. The Utter Nots 11:00
02. Outer Spaceways, Inc 1:05
03. Scene 1, Take 1 8:02
04. Pyramids 2:22
05. Interpretation 7:30
06. Ancient Ethiopia 2:43
07. Strange Worlds 8:27

Alto Saxophone, Flute, Alto Clarinet – Danny Davis
Alto Saxophone, Oboe, Flute, Piccolo Flute – Marshall Allen
Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Danny Thompson, Pat Patrick
Bass – Ronnie Boykins
Drum [Hand Drums] – Nimrod Hunt
Oboe, Flute, Drums [Ancient Egyptian Infinity Drum] – James Jacson
Percussion – Clifford Jarvis, Lex Humphries
Piano, Synthesizer [Moog], Electric Organ [Space-master], Clavinet [Miscredited Clarinet], Written-By, Arranged By – Sun Ra
Producer – Jean Georgakarakos, Jean-Luc Young
Tenor Saxophone, Percussion – John Gilmore
Trombone – Ali Hassan, Charles Stevens
Trumpet – Kwame Hadi
Trumpet, Mellophone – Akh Tal Ebah
Vocals – Arthur Jenkins, June Tyson

Recorded at the Sun Studios, New York, 1970-71


Recorded between 1970-1971, The Solar Myth Approach, Vol. 2 is comprised of solo keyboard explorations by Sun Ra, couched in between two free-form workouts by his whole Arkestra. Kicking off the set is the first band workout "The Utter Nots," which, amidst a relentless Afro-percussion backdrop, features a loose mix of fiery and mild statements by most of Ra's main soloists (alto saxophonist Marshall Allan, oboe player James Jackson, tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, et al.). The more frenetic of the two Arkestra features, "Strange Worlds," alternates between full band outbursts and cryptic keyboard and vocal interludes. The highpoints of the album, though, are Ra's wonderfully strange excursions at the keys. Evoking a child's outer-space play land, Ra produces a dizzying whirl of celestial noises on the Moog synthesizer for "Scene 1, Take 1" while switching the keyboard to harpsichord mode for a hauntingly beautiful meditation of baroque proportions on "Pyramids." The final solo finds Ra running amok over both the piano keyboard and the strings inside, producing a ghostly haze of sound. Balancing out the momentous proceedings are two brief and whimsical numbers, "Ancient Ethiopia" and "Outer Spaceways, Inc.," the last of which includes a pleasant vocal request to join Sun Ra and the Arkestra on a journey to world beyond, an invitation implied throughout the disc.

Further tracks from the same session (or sessions) that produced The Solar-Myth Approach Volume 1. (That the Sun Ra discography is a labyrinth of false leads and dead ends, with different albums and tracks sharing the same names and sometimes the same work appearing with different names, and that Sun Ra then often shuffled everything up to increase the confusion, seems to suit the chaotic impulses of the music. And if I hadn't actually heard the music I would suspect that Sun Ra was a Borgesian fiction.) And the music carries on in the same way, seemingly a series of interesting ideas that are briefly sketched out. But that's not totally the case, the first track being the highlight of the two albums, the most complete of all the tracks: beginning with a pulse played by the horns it then breaks down into a cacophony of shouts, threatening to spin away from its centre but finally managing to hold together. But the other tracks are relatively minor: there is a Sun Ra singalong (Outer Spaceways, Inc.) and a series of tracks that highlight Sun Ra's keyboard playing, but there is not anything as interesting as Legend from the first album, the electronics often sounding a little too close to the background music for 1960s BBC science fiction programmes. But still, as with the first album, intriguing.

Sun Ra - 1972 - The Solar-Myth Approach Volume I

Sun Ra
1972
The Solar-Myth Approach Volume I



01. Spectrum 4:52
02. Realm Of Lightning 12:00
03. The Satellites Are Spinning 3:25
04. Legend 9:44
05. Seen III, Took 4 3:25
06. They'll Come Back 3:51
07. Adventures Of Bugs Hunter 6:25

Alto Saxophone, Flute, Alto Clarinet – Danny Davis
Alto Saxophone, Oboe, Flute, Piccolo Flute – Marshall Allen
Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Danny Ray Thompson, Pat Patrick
Bass – Ronnie Boykins
Drum [Hand Drums] – Nimrod Hunt
Oboe, Flute, Drum [Ancient Egyptian Infinity Drums] – James Jacson
Percussion – Clifford Jarvis, Lex Humphries
Piano, Synthesizer [Moog], Electric Organ [Space-master], Clavinet [Miscredited Clarinet] – Sun Ra
Tenor Saxophone, Percussion – John Gilmore
Trombone – Ali Hassan, Charles Stevens
Trumpet – Kwame Hadi
Trumpet, Mellophone – Akh Tal Ebah
Vocals – Arthur Jenkins, June Tyson

Recorded at the Sun Studios, New York, 1970-71.



A collection of all-out free improv avant-garde takes from the late 1960s/early -70s by the mightiest of moogy space nuts, but it’s not as inaccessible as you might think. Sun Ra dabbles in moog synthezisers for the most part, with some tracks being almost purely solo fumbling with manipulated, woozy and muffled keyboard sound, but there are some combo pieces where the arkestra either does ensemble free improv work in the B-movie-Egyptian „exotica“ free jazz style while Sun Ra reacts to them with tentative, full clusters (and disappears here and there completely) or erratic „solos“. Here and there they all fall into compositions with chorus and melody with an occult group chant („The Satellites Are Spinning“), but it almost seems like an accident, induced by collective trance. „They’ll Come Back“ is a classic little combo piece with a ‚normal‘ instrumenation in Sun Ra’s shamanized post-bop style.

Overall, this is extremely sketchy, but quite appealing as it is the kind of free improv that doesn’t bash you over the head with dissonance and noise but the kind that develops a trance-like, soothing atmosphere after you stop worrying about procedure and relevance – maybe while you float through your living room in a cup of green tea. Available as a twofer with its follow-up selection on The Solar-Myth Approach Volume 1 & 2.

One of Sun Ra's more experimental sets (and that's saying something), 1970's The Solar-Myth Approach, Vol. 1 is an eclectic set of tapes from sessions that date back to 1967 and include some of Sun Ra's earliest experiments with Moog synthesizers (the clatteringly primitive solo "Scene III, Took 4" sounds like it could have come from the very first time he experimented with the machine) and evidence of his increasing interest in dissonance and repetition. For example, the opening "Spectrum" sets various horn and reed players against each other in such a fashion that they sound woozily out of tune, even though they're playing in the same key; like most of the rest of the album, this piece is built on the most minimal compositional skeleton, with little in the way of melodic development or counterpoint. The pieces are also recorded with typically eccentric instrument groupings; most of the ten-minute "Legend" is an extended duet for trombones, and only the rollicking "They'll Come Back" has a typical small-combo lineup. Those who are into Sun Ra's most non-traditional musical ideas should look no further.

Sun Ra - 1970 - The Night Of The Purple Moon

Sun Ra
1970
The Night Of The Purple Moon


01. Sun-Earth Rock 4:37
02. The All Of Everything 4:22
03. Impromptu Festival 4:00
04. Blue Soul 3:44
05. Narrative 2:53
06. Outside The Time Zone 5:00
07. The Night Of The Purple Moon 3:45
08. A Bird's Eye-View Of Man's World 2:56
09. 21st Century Romance 4:05
10. Dance Of The Living Image 4:35
11. Love In Outer Space 3:45

Only on cd:

12. Love in Outer Space (alternate take)
13. Wurlitzer and Zeleste
14. Wurlitzer solo 1
15. Wurlitzer solo 2

Alto Saxophone, Clarinet – Danny Davis
Bass [Electronic] – Stafford James
Synthesizer [Moog], Keyboards [Roksichord] – Sun Ra
Tenor Saxophone, Percussion – John Gilmore

The same serie of bootleg vinyls appeared in 2000 also includes this recording. The reissue by Atavistic contains 4 more tracks, supposedly from the same session.




The Night of the Purple Moon, recorded and released in 1970, has a vague flavor of the prevailing psychedelic zeitgeist of the late 1960s. That's due to the presence of two electronic keyboards that were popular with psych bands: the Rock-Si-Chord (commonly misspelled Rocksichord) and the Minimoog.

The former, built by Rocky Mount Instruments and first sold around 1967-68, was used by rock bands as a louder stand-in for the harpsichord, which could not compete against high-decibel electric guitars. (The Rock-Si-Chord was also famously showcased on Terry Riley's 1968 tour de force A Rainbow in Curved Air.)

Ra owned an early custom Minimoog (a portable Moog synthesizer), and had previously featured (pre-Mini-) Moog modules on My Brother the Wind Vol. 1, recorded in 1969. Ra would use the Minimoog on several more recordings, including the magnum opus "Space Probe," and tour with it for several years. Unlike many recording artists at the time, Ra was not interested in using innovative instruments to frame familiar pop songs; he wanted to explore the sonic possibilities with futuristic music. Ra often treated the Minimoog brutally, wrenching from it exotic textures and distorted blasts at Richter-level magnitudes. Bob Moog invented the Minimoog. Sun Ra reinvented it.

However, listening to Purple Moon, one gets the sense that after a decade of experimentalism and free jazz, Sun Ra wanted to make an accessible pop record. What he came up with is not Iron Butterfly, but had this record been properly marketed, it could have appealed to a segment of that band's market. If one-tenth of those who bought In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida purchased Purple Moon, Sun Ra would have reached the lower rungs of the Billboard charts.

The Arkestra on Purple Moon is skeletal, with only three sidemen: saxophonist John Gilmore (tenor on "Impromptu Festival," drums on other tracks), bassist Stafford James (his sole recording with Ra), and Danny Davis, who plays reeds and percussion. Gilmore was one of the greatest saxophonists of his generation. As a drummer, he's one of the greatest saxophonists of his generation.

Despite his predilection for making new music with new instruments, Sunny was not above offering "cover versions" of his own tunes: Purple Moon featured a remake of "Love in Outer Space," first recorded in 1962 and initially released in 1965 on Secrets of the Sun. The tune eventually became a Sun Ra "standard," with over 150 recorded versions in Ra's vast catalog. In addition to the Purple Moon LP version, we have included the 1975 vocal version, featuring singer David Henderson (also in his only recorded performance with Ra), and an alternate take. The title track is offered here twice: the original LP version and a previously unreleased alternate take. Unlike "Love in Outer Space," these are the only two known recordings of "Night of the Purple Moon."

The album contains three electronic solo works, "Blue Soul," an old-fashioned torch song with space-age shimmer; "Narrative," a choppy, yet propulsive work that seems less a composition and more a keyboard test-drive; and "Outside the Time Zone," a bluesy romp that flirts with atonality. These three tracks were cited by Ra historians as having been performed on the Minimoog. However, Moog historian Brian Kehew disagrees: "They sound like an organ or some other electronic keyboard, but not like a Moog."