Modemac | Cambridge, MA United States | 03/01/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When the Xists come and yank us all into the saucers by our reproductive organs, SUN RA will be there on the saucers already waiting to entertain us with his Intergalactic Celestial Arkestra! Almost before "Bob" himself met the Xists, Sun Ra was conversing with them on a regular basis and giving them many of his musical secrets to make their cosmic jam sessions even more swingin'. (Those other wimpy New Age "Space Brother" UFO cults think that we got all of our best ideas from aliens, and we're too dumb to do any great works ourselves. HA! It's because of the SLACK emanating from the most creative SubGenii that the Xists want to rescue us in the first place. THEY got their best ideas from US!)But, fellow brothers and sisters and othergenders, I must confess that during most of my time before graduating high school, I was woefully ignorant of the vast realms of music that exist beyond the realms of Conspiracy-owned Top 4 Radio. I first heard of him through MTV, of all places, when they did a piece on him and said how his concerts were a lot of fun and he put a lot of Disney tunes into them. I was heavily in my Disney phase then (it being the late 1980s), and that piqued my interest. It just so happened that a week or two after seeing that piece, Sun Ra came to my home town and did a show at the Nightstage club. So I went to go and see him, out of curiosity...and I had a blast. I knew nothing of what to expect, but it was *still* one of the best shows I've seen in my life. There was energy and cosmic wisdom and SLACK to spare, and I knew that the Man From Saturn was speaking the TRUTH when he said that we don't have to die. "That's not my law! Abandon life! Abandon death! That's my law - my only law!"Anyways, I finally outgrew the corporate seduction of Disney enough to start reaching out and discovering new (to me) kinds of music...which led me to try out Sun Ra. I went and bought a Ra CD that many of his fans hail as a landmark: "The Magic City." Unfortunately, that turned out to be one of the worst choices for a beginner to Sun Ra. That particular album had been recorded when he was in the middle of his experimental, chaotic phase of the 1960s, and it was far removed from the jazz that I'd seen and heard from him. In short, I was taken completely off-guard, and this actually turned me off of Ra for a while.But my curiosity remained. One day while doing a Web search for Sun Ra out of curiosity, I discovered this essay: http://www.furious.com/perfect/sunra.htmlA bare-bones biography of Sun Ra's career, it opened my eyes and made me understand the type of music I wanted to find. I knew then that if I wanted to discover Sun Ra, I should start at the beginning and try the sound that first made Ra's career. So I went out and bought a CD that could probably be considered a Beginner's Introduction to Sun Ra: the combo-CD of "Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth" and "Interstellar Low Ways." THAT really caught my fancy, as it contained lots of swinging, wild, FUN music that started out as traditional big-band jazz but gradually worked its way into the celestial fusion experimental sounds for which Ra had become more known. (The track "Interplanetary Music" in particular is the type of song that would make a good introduction to any SubGenius radio show!) So from there, I've been discovering more about the Man From Saturn and realizing that while the Disney tunes he used in his late career may have been fun, they don't even scratch the surface of the man who is ALREADY jammin' with the Xists and getting them ready for our journey on X-Day!(Yes, I know the Arkestra is still touring today, but that's not the XIST ARKESTRA.)"
Discover Sun Ra (Part Two)
Ed Luhrs | Long Island, NY USA | 03/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a parallel review to "Angels & Demons at Play/The Nubians of Plutonia." Both albums are a great place to start if you're discovering Sun Ra.Sun Ra made a huge number of recordings with his Arkestra. Many of these works have floated in and out of print. His works seem to remain on the periphery; what helps them is a devoted fan base drawn from a number of camps: Thelonius Monk, Duke Ellington, Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman, George Clinton, Grateful Dead, and Phish among many others. His albums range from adventurous to downright insane. This particular album and the other one I mentioned contain a very pleasing balance of all the things that make Sun Ra so much fun: the big band, the swing, the rumba, the wild orchestrations and rhythms, the improvisations, and the overall "interplanetary funkmanship" of which George Clinton once sang.My first Sun Ra album was actually a wild one: "Other Planes of There." I really like it, along with another adventurous title "Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy/Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow." There are a number of these wilder examples of free jazz in his catalogue, and there are also more conventional albums.My recommendation is to begin with the more conventional albums, because they offer plenty of fun insanity to begin with. "Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth/Interstellar Low Ways" is a particular favorite of mine. If you can get a hold of a copy, check it out!"
A good first trip into Ra's outer space for junior cadets!
happydogpotatohead | New Orleans, LA USA | 04/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've been hearing people name-drop Sun Ra and you wonder what the deal is, this is a great place to start. At first listen it may sound like big-band jazz, but then you start noticing the oddities; the dual baritone saxophones, the way the Orchestra jumps out of standard jazz structures and into pure modality, Ra's odd chord choices...but you'll hear them for yourself. Gradually you realize that this is not ordinary jazz. On other excursions (i.e., albums) Sun Ra can snatch you rather abruptly from Planet Earth, but here he does magic to tempt you into boarding. And then before you know it, you're cruising the spaceways. If you are a Sun Ra fan you know how delightful this is; if you are not, this may change your mind; and if you don't know who he is, why, step up and meet the Man from Saturn!"
Stellar Jazz, Moves Progressively Forward into Global Sound
Scott McFarland | Manassas, VA United States | 10/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The earliest recordings here, i.e. Side 1 of "Visits", are beautiful big-band jazz in the tradition of Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and others. Side 2 of Visits is even better - the polyrhythms move towards a pan-cultural trance effect, the music starts to transcend jazz (while retaining the best of jazz's tonal characteristics) and the whole thing flows towards natural, other-wordly beauty. The whole of "Interstellar Low Ways" retains this spirit of adventure and apllies it towards a set of memorable themes. The playing and arrangement on both of these LPs are superb.This is an excellent place to begin investigation of Sun Ra's music, and as good a bargain as you'll find in terms of quality music on a single CD."
No one like the Ra
Scott McFarland | 12/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"sun ra is a true original. whether big band or avant-garde the ra will always turn your ear and have you playing a cut over and over to make sure you really did hear that. melody becomes percussion, percussion becomes melody. the guy was just too great. this cd is classic ra. at first it sounds orthodox. but listen close and you start to hear that slightly odd always enchanting lick that only myster.ra could conceive. you will dig it, i promise"