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Gilles Peterson Presents Sun Ra And His Arkestra (Strut)

Acknowledged as the catalyst for the experimental, spiritual and esoteric freestyle jazz from the beginning of the 1950’s, Sun Ra and his Arkestra inspired any a musician, Dj and music collector universally. His influence is secreted in recordings from John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, through to Lonnie Liston Smith and Kamasi Washington. Renowned jazz aficionado Gilles Peterson has chosen 34 tracks spread over two CD’s, dating back to the post 20th Century 1950’s swing, doo wop, rhumba, cha cha cha genres to the current millennium with previously unreleased live recordings. It’s an eclectic compilation for those with an open mind for musical close encounters of the third eye kind and mind. Sun Ra experiments with electric keyboards, instruments and eerie organ sounds on “Sun Song” circa 1957. Vocal contributions like “Dreaming” from 1955 evoke latter memories of Dr Buzzards Savannah Band successful formula 20 years later. Songs titles like “India” and “Space Loneliness” are typically very atmospheric in an acoustic vein with orchestration but without strings. With Sun Ra’s obvious connection to the astral world and various interplanetary platforms, his crystallised productions were so advanced, that some of his late 1950-1960s recordings stand the test of time in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. His catalogue is so diverse with an Art Blakey “Cuban Chant” simulated “Brazilian Sun” to a vocal harmony laced “Black Sky And Blue Moon” and a varied change of tempo and musicianship via “Watusa”. With June Tyson vocally chanting Sun Ra plays the clavinet like a lead guitar on a late 1960’s “The World Of Africa”. I’m absolutely certain that the popular BBC 1970’s children TV animation series ‘The Clangers’ was inspired by the mid 1960’s composition “Cluster Of Galaxies” with its sun harp, thunder drums and spiral percussion antidotes. Amongst the highlights are live recordings some previously unreleased from France and Zurich that conjure up the vision of imagining the live dance routines that would have been performed. With his spiritually gifted Arkestral Manoeuvred musicians Sun Ra was a pioneer in painting the dark and light colour shades of music so I urge those with open minds to check out his “Space Is The Place” music.

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