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Sun Ra|Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra: In The Orbit Of Ra

Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra: In The Orbit Of Ra

Sun Ra

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As the longest-tenured member of the Arkestra (55-plus years and counting as of 2014), there is no one with a deeper understanding of the music of Sun Ra than Marshall Allen, and that's part of what makes In the Orbit of Ra such a special collection. The Arkestra's long history is often divided into musical/geographic periods or spoken of as a progression from inside to outside playing. This set spans from the late '50s to the late '70s but the non-chronological sequencing shows how artificial those stylistic boundaries are. The tracks chosen show how many of the elements of their more outside material were present even back in the late '50s and there was quite clearly a strong, coherent musical vision in place from the beginning (but most audiences probably weren't ready for it yet). There are a few signature tunes here, but this isn't really a greatest-hits collection. Instead, it's a guided tour from Marshall Allen deep into Sun Ra's music. Each track leads the listener a bit further so by the time Art Jenkins' space voice enters at the end of disc one, it makes perfect sense instead of just being "weird" in a different context. "Solar Differentials" is the perfect setup for the second disc (starting with the hypnotic "Astro Black," replete with industrial drill sounds), which continues the journey with more of a focus on vocal pieces over the years, ultimately leading us back full circle to the beginning in Chicago. In addition to the unreleased tracks "Reflects Motion, Pt. 1" and "Trying to Put the Blame on Me" (a wonderful solo piano piece), there's an unedited "Islands in the Sun" and a bunch of great photos by Val Wilmer. Then there's the remastering: this is easily the best sound most of these tracks have ever had before, on CD or LP. There are any number of great performances here, but Ronnie Boykins' work on bass really stands out with the new remastering. Despite the fact that most of this material was already available, In the Orbit of Ra is close to essential for fans and a pretty good place to start for the curious Sun Ra novice. He really was writing music for the 21st century.
© Sean Westergaard /TiVo

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Marshall Allen presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra: In The Orbit Of Ra

Sun Ra

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1
Somewhere In Space
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:03:02

Sun Ra And His Myth Science Orchestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1965 El Saturn Records

2
The Lady With The Golden Stockings (a.k.a. The Golden Lady)
Sun Ra Arkestra
00:07:43

Sun Ra and His Solar Myth Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1960 El Saturn Records

3
Somebody Else's World
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:04:03

Sun Ra And His Astro Infinity Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1971 Saturn Research

4
Spontaneous Simplicity
Sun Ra
00:07:59

Sun Ra, Main Artist, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1971 Black Lion Records

5
Plutonian Nights
Sun Ra Arkestra
00:04:24

Sun Ra and His Solar Myth Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1960 El Saturn Records

6
Angels And Demons At Play
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:02:55

Sun Ra And His Myth-Science Arkestra, Main Artist - Marshall Allen; Ronald Boykins, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1965 Saturn Records

7
Island In The Sun (Extended Version)
Sun Ra
00:10:22

Sun Ra, Main Artist, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1974 El Saturn Records

8
Rocket Number Nine Take Off For The Planet Venus
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:06:22

Sun Ra And His Myth Science Orchestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1965 El Saturn Records

9
Solar Differentials
Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra
00:06:24

Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1965 Saturn Research

DISC 2

1
Astro Black
Sun Ra Arkestra
00:10:55

Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1973 Impulse

2
Have You Heard The Latest News From Neptune
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:05:53

Sun Ra And His Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1972 El Saturn Records

3
Dance Of The Cosmo-Aliens (Live In Milan, 1978)
Sun Ra
00:11:07

Sun Ra, Main Artist, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1978 El Saturn Records

4
Trying To Put The Blame On Me (Live In Rome, 1977)
Sun Ra
00:03:45

Sun Ra, Main Artist, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 2014 Art Yard Ltd

5
Planet Earth
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:04:58

Sun Ra And His Solar Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1965 El Saturn Records

6
The Nile
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:04:56

Sun Ra And His Myth-Science Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1963 Saturn Research

7
Reflects Motion (Part One)
Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra
00:03:23

Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 2014 Art Yard Ltd

8
Reflects Motion (Part Two)
Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra
00:08:11

Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1965 Saturn Research

9
Ancient Aiethiopia
Sun Ra Arkestra
00:09:17

Sun Ra and His Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1959 El Saturn Records

10
Interplanetary Music
Enterplanetary Koncepts
00:02:42

Sun Ra And His Myth Science Orchestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer, Lyricist - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1967 Saturn Records

11
We Travel The Spaceways
Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra
00:03:21

Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra, Main Artist - Sun Ra, Composer - Enterplanetary Koncepts

2014 Strut 1963 Saturn Research

Album Description

As the longest-tenured member of the Arkestra (55-plus years and counting as of 2014), there is no one with a deeper understanding of the music of Sun Ra than Marshall Allen, and that's part of what makes In the Orbit of Ra such a special collection. The Arkestra's long history is often divided into musical/geographic periods or spoken of as a progression from inside to outside playing. This set spans from the late '50s to the late '70s but the non-chronological sequencing shows how artificial those stylistic boundaries are. The tracks chosen show how many of the elements of their more outside material were present even back in the late '50s and there was quite clearly a strong, coherent musical vision in place from the beginning (but most audiences probably weren't ready for it yet). There are a few signature tunes here, but this isn't really a greatest-hits collection. Instead, it's a guided tour from Marshall Allen deep into Sun Ra's music. Each track leads the listener a bit further so by the time Art Jenkins' space voice enters at the end of disc one, it makes perfect sense instead of just being "weird" in a different context. "Solar Differentials" is the perfect setup for the second disc (starting with the hypnotic "Astro Black," replete with industrial drill sounds), which continues the journey with more of a focus on vocal pieces over the years, ultimately leading us back full circle to the beginning in Chicago. In addition to the unreleased tracks "Reflects Motion, Pt. 1" and "Trying to Put the Blame on Me" (a wonderful solo piano piece), there's an unedited "Islands in the Sun" and a bunch of great photos by Val Wilmer. Then there's the remastering: this is easily the best sound most of these tracks have ever had before, on CD or LP. There are any number of great performances here, but Ronnie Boykins' work on bass really stands out with the new remastering. Despite the fact that most of this material was already available, In the Orbit of Ra is close to essential for fans and a pretty good place to start for the curious Sun Ra novice. He really was writing music for the 21st century.
© Sean Westergaard /TiVo

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