Friday, July 19, 2019

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

Sun Ra
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.

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