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Great Lost Sun Ra Albums: Cybals & Crystal Spears
Sun Ra
Great Lost Sun Ra Albums: Cybals & Crystal Spears
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #2

This two-CD set consists of two "lost" Sun Ra LPs, both recorded in 1973 and originally intended for release by Impulse Records. Cymbals, the first of them, emphasizes Sun Ra's organ and rhythm section playing at medium te...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Sun Ra
Title: Great Lost Sun Ra Albums: Cybals & Crystal Spears
Members Wishing: 6
Total Copies: 0
Label: Evidence
Original Release Date: 9/26/2000
Release Date: 9/26/2000
Album Type: Box set, Original recording remastered
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Swing Jazz
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPC: 730182221725

This two-CD set consists of two "lost" Sun Ra LPs, both recorded in 1973 and originally intended for release by Impulse Records. Cymbals, the first of them, emphasizes Sun Ra's organ and rhythm section playing at medium tempos with only one or two horn players at a time joining them. The great bassist Ronnie Boykins, whose flexible walking bass lines and creative bowed work were often obscured on recordings of the large band, is unusually prominent, with particularly good musical dialogue between him and Sun Ra (playing a rocksichord) on "The Order of the Pharaonic Jesters." "Thoughts under a Dark Blue Light," 16 minutes long, is a lumpy polyrhythmic blues that includes a masterpiece of sustained avant-blues playing by John Gilmore, a giant of the tenor saxophone who influenced Coltrane but rarely ventured out of the Arkestra.The second CD, Crystal Spears, uses the horns more extensively, along with a battery of percussionists. Drummer Clifford Jarvis and two conga players often build up extraordinary polyrhythms at slow and medium tempos, and there's a processional or ceremonial feel to much of the music. Sun Ra's use of the mini-Moog synthesizer is particularly creative on the album's original title track. "The Embassy of the Living God" matches his dirgelike organ with the horns' brilliantly chaotic collective improvisation. There are fine solos throughout by trumpeter Akh Tal Ebah and the trio of Gilmore, Danny Davis, and Marshall Allan on reeds. The original LPs were mixed in Quadraphonic Sound, and Cymbals, like many Sun Ra recordings, has muddy sound and considerable mike distortion on Sun Ra's keyboards and the horns. Evidence Music has done heroic work in cleaning up the sound to the extent that they have. --Stuart Broomer

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CD Reviews

Meanders a bit
Scott McFarland | Manassas, VA United States | 10/23/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)

"These 2 records sound like much of the output Ra printed on his Saturn label during the 1970's and 80's - charming in places, but a bit meandering on the whole. A critic would call them "thin". Now, there is a real beauty to collecting as much of Ra's output as one can, and enjoying each recording as a fan of the band might enjoy a series of dozens or hundreds of live performances. And to Ra fanatics, an unearthing of these 2 records, previously unheard to any fans (even those who swap tapes of out-of-print Saturns) is a major archeological discovery. Evidence have done their usual studied, state-of-the-art job in mastering and packaging.To most of us though this is far from Ra and the Arkestra's best work, and I'd recommend that all but devoted fans start somewhere else."
Outstanding collection from poorly documented 70's period
C. Moon | Valley Village, CA | 02/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Despite one of the worst covers yet concieved by Evidence for their Sun Ra releases (don't be fooled by the shot shown on this page--that's the INSIDE cover) and having to shell out the cost of a double (~......) for a set that isn't much longer than their 2 on 1 CD releases, 'The Great Lost Sun Ra Albums' is a fantastic set, documenting what was previously a poorly covered period. These two albums, along with the sister album ('friendly love') give you four effectively lost albums all of outstanding quality. The pieces here are less 'blowing' as the pieces appearing on 'Friendly Love' and are instead a bit gentler with some of Sun Ra's better keyboard playing up front in the mix. This doesn't mean these albums aren't 'out', but like the other albums we've heard from Ra in this period, the music becomes somewhat more approachable--though not in any way less wierd than his 60's period.All in all, while the price may make this a poor choice for first listeners, I must disagree with other reviews that would make these albums out to be superflous or sub-standard. Excellent stuff by the arkestra that belongs in the collection of any Ra fan."
Christopher Forbes | Brooklyn,, NY | 06/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Thank you Evidence for unearthing these tracks. I think that, far from being only for the Ra completist, these two albums are essential Ra and perhaps the best place for the Ra novice to start. Cymbals shows Ra and Company in the mode of the great organ groups of the 50s and 60s, albeit twisted through the distinct Ra prism. Ra's organ playing has never been more inciniary, and John Gilmore burns the house down with his solo on Thoughts Under a Dark Blue Light. This is first rate avant-blues. Crystal Spears is a pared down Arkestra album that resembles more of the groups 60's recording. It has the extended chamber jazz feel of albums like The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra, but is more accessible. These pieces resemble shaman get the sense that something deep and mysterious is going on. All in all, these are great releases. They are a must for the Ra completist (though I doubt you'll ever own the complete albums keep coming out all the time! Perhaps he's still recording in his new dimension of existence!) But I think these albums are also a great place to start an adventure into the music of Sun Ra. They are equal parts familiar and adventurous."