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Magic City
Sun Ra
Magic City
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1

By the mid-1960s, bandleader and composer Sun Ra was delving deeply into extended, improvisation-heavy suites like The Magic City. Reckoned to be a tribute to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, this long, circuitous piec...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Sun Ra
Title: Magic City
Members Wishing: 8
Total Copies: 0
Label: Evidence
Release Date: 11/25/1993
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Swing Jazz
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 730182206920

By the mid-1960s, bandleader and composer Sun Ra was delving deeply into extended, improvisation-heavy suites like The Magic City. Reckoned to be a tribute to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, this long, circuitous piece comes in two different takes on the CD reissue, and both takes are rambunctiously keeled on Ra's core band members, tenor saxophonist John Gilmore and alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, who each offer scouring, ear-pinning interludes. Even so, the music here is huge, with sprawling collective improvisatons that burst with wholehearted high energy, suggesting a latent power that Sun Ra often channeled through both his own intricate scores and reams of cover tunes elsewhere in his several decades as jazz's chief outer-space renegade. --Andrew Bartlett

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CD Reviews

Some Truly Great 20th Century Music: Too Good To Ignore
Timothy Dougal | Madison, Wi United States | 11/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not going to compare "Magic City" to other jazz albums of the 60's, because it deserves a wider audience than only Sun Ra fans or free jazz afficionados. This album is distinct and amazing even in Sun Ra's eccentric ouevre, and it is without peer. If you appreciate the myriad attempts of 20th Century composers to reach the musical outer limits, such as those of Webern, Berg, Stravinsky, Varese, Bartok, Messiaen, Boulez, Zappa, etc., this is an album you will want to hear. Its textures, sonorities, and extremes of mood, from humor to terror and dread, put it in the august company of every musician who has put a soundtrack to consciousness and creation, to science and synthesis, to form generating itself in pure music. Get it!"
I can't believe nobody's reviewed this CD before!
Eric | Chicago | 12/18/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD is amazing and while I see 13 reviews for Eric Dolphy's "Out to Lunch," I see no reviews for this cd. This seems to show that people just buy those other albums because they're considered so good (and controversial), but never bothered to delve deep into the vein of free jazz, and this album is one of the greatest in that vein. Sounding harsh at times, this album ebbs and flows like no other. The continuously playing clavioline gives the album a constant theme of eerie unknown, like space, or another world. Yet it always manages to come back to sounding earthly. While Eric Dolphy was amazing and monumental in the same area, he never seemed to have the drive that Sun Ra did, who constantly made his musicians rehearse. This album is amazing and I highly recommend buying it for anyone who seriously listens to jazz, or any kind of music (if you want to have a better life, listen to a wide variety of music, that way you find out what you like.) The Magic City engulfs you and causes you to see things you wouldn't normally see. The songs not only are monumental in their sound, but monumental in their ability to represent visual themes, such as outer space and "the Magic City" itself, Birmingham Alabama. Listen to this CD at your local store, then buy it if you like it."
Guy Berger | San Diego, CA | 12/28/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is not the place to start in avant garde jazz. In fact, I suspect that plenty of perfectly reasonable, open-minded jazz fans will never get into this album. Unlike more accessible albums in the genre (Eric Dolphy's _Out to Lunch_, Ornette Coleman's early albums, John Coltrane's recordings between '61-'65) there's not much for most listeners to touch base with here. Harmony, rhythm, and melody are fleeting; the second half of the epic title track, which features extremely discordant horn blowing, will scare off 99% of the reasonable people. If you're not completely scared off by this, I strongly recommend buying this album; the title suite is an incredibly intense collective improvisation: Sun Ra plays his eerie clavioline while Marshall Allen manically toots his piccolo and Ronnie Boykins does some killer bowing. Finally the rest of the band joins in to what may be some of the most intense and challenging fifteen minutes ever recorded. It truly is from outer space. The second half of the CD is full of shorter pieces that aren't quite as mind blowing but are still remarkable. Get it if you dare."