Download of the Week: Sun Ra And His Intergalactic Myth Science Solar Arkestra

Sometimes it takes time to find what I'm looking for—the salve to sooth some ache or pain. At times like these, I avoid go-to's preferring to find something new, even if that something turns out to be old.

Originally released on Saturn Records in 1979, Sun Ra & Co's Sleeping Beauty is the butter for my toast. A big band studio affair, Sleeping Beauty embodies all of the far out, space is the place jazz funk-O-rama that we can expect from Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Only here, it's easier to like, smoother on the palate and easier to spread into all those nooks and crannies that some music, most music?, only partly fills.

From Art Yard Records, the label responsible for this reissue:

Sleeping Beauty. . .is one of the most profound and compelling sets in the whole Ra discography, and the Variety Studio sound captures the Arkestra with unique clarity and depth. Recorded with an expanded 28-piece band, the album features woozy avant-ballad ‘Springtime Again’, the glittering future funk of ‘Door to the Cosmos’, and finally the stunning meditative, spiritualised groove of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Yum. And if you live anywhere within the cold belt, I implore you to at least listen to Track 1, "Springtime Again", just to hear Sun and his Akestra sing "It's Spring, it's Spring, it's Springtime again" over and over. It'll thaw your soul.

Sleeping Beauty, get yours, is available from Bandcamp.

Listen here:

The lineup:

Sun Ra - piano, electric piano, organ, vocals
John Gilmore - tenor sax, percussion, vocals
Marshall Allen - alto sax, flute
Eloe Omoe - bass clarinet, flute, percussion
Michael Ray - trumpet, vocals
Danny Thompson - baritone sax, flute, percussion
Luqrnan Ali - drums, vocals
Knoel Scott - alto sax, baritone sax, percussion
Craig Harris - trombone
Tony Bethel - trombone
Vlncent Chancey - french hom
James Jackson - bassoon, flute, percussion
Walter Miller - trumpet
June Tyson - vocals
Rhoda Blount - vocals
Richard Williams - electric bass
Stanley Morgan - congas
Harry Wilson - vibraphone
Curt Pulliam - trumpet
Kenny Williams - tenor sax, flute
Hutch Jones - alto sax, tenor sax
Taylor Richardson - electric guitar
Steve Clark - electric bass
Damon Choice - vibraphone, vocals
Eddie Thomas - drums
Reg McDonald - drums
Atakatune - percussion
Sylvester Baton - reeds

deckeda's picture

Michael, here's one that fits with the theme here of a title old that's new, in this case literally so.

Ella at Zardi's, came out late last year. Given HDTrack's price structure of higher res being priced higher, that is to say 24/192 being $25, it's ... $25.

You can read about it elsewhere, but it's Verve's first live recording and was intended to be Ella's first release for Verve. But instead it got shelved for the Cole Porter Songbook (hard to blame them!).

And so this is not only an unreleased performance, a couple of the songs have never appeared on any Ella release before.

But forget about it being an unearthed treasure nugget. The sound is very nice, and the performance is top notch Ella mid 1950s! If you've heard the Twelve Nights in Hollywood that was expanded from the original LP and released in 2009, this has some of her signature audience banter and ad-libbing, but it's still funny and incredibly charming in a way most artists would never allow themselves to be vulnerable.

Her connection with the audience on this recording is less about being a bird on a pedestal, as it sometimes was with Twelve Nights, and more like glue and styrofoam: completely and intimately locked-in.

ednaz's picture

I saw Sun Ra several times. Every time, at some point during the concert (sometimes very early - 15-20 minutes or so) I'd feel my grip on reality getting tenuous, in the best possible way. I played in a couple of big bands, and the whole band went to see his concert once, hoping we could somehow figure out how to do a bit of his magic. Never got close, maybe because as usual, we were all happily disoriented after about a half hour, with no interest in anything other than just flying along. All that without any better living through chemistry.

I got about halfway through that cut and realized I was watching the trees swaying wildly in the windstorm outside and beginning to rock back and forth. Yeah, that's it. Off to buy it, find my favorite headphones, go flying. I've got a few of his albums, and none of them get me where his concerts did. This... this has promise.

Wonder if they're going to offer the re-release on Saturn.

ednaz's picture

This is an exceptional release. Make sure you have a designated driver.

byrdhunt's picture

Sun Ra

Space travel be-bop, as if Fletcher
Henderson’s Orchestra were strutting
The Milky Way instead of riffing
The Cotton Club. Oh, Sun who is Ra
As you sway the keys and your astral
Eyes dance other planes of now in this
Ethereal shuck and jive, take me on
Your rocket ship. Oh, yes, space is
The place and we are with you, beyond
The costumes and tin foil hats, beyond
The dancing shuffle as the reeds twist
Left and the brass jab right, beyond the 1920s
Two-step and diatonic sweet refracted
Into a travel beyond time as you fly us
To planet earth on supersonic jazz.