Thursday, 20 April 2017

Sun Ra - Thunder Of The Gods

'Another world, another world, another w-o-o-o-r-r-ld!' cries June Tyson. Abstract dreams are what Sun Ra's music comprises of, mostly, those and concrete manifestations of the big band tradition; yet it is the abstract that defines him and although his synth solo on Calling Planet Earth - We'll Wait For You may be the stuff of nightmares for the sensitive stupid cloth-eared less open-minded listener it is stunning to behold - truly - in fact the whole track is a masterpiece of prime Sun Ra 'live', this solo alone sets the heart racing, such is it's ferocity - Ra's total velocity - to the planet Venus and beyond! Everything is here - brilliant horn solos, that synth, June Tyson...and as it tails off with in a sombre mode it's as if the earth weeps at the prospect of his inevitable departure. Thanks to Modern Harmonic we can hear previously unreleased evidence of the Arkestra's full creative force. 

The two remaining tracks from the Strange Strings session, which Sun Ra called 'a study in ignorance' because none of the band knew how to play what was handed to them. The original record has since become legendary, almost defying belief whilst exemplifying the outward bound approach of The Man. I can't help thinking of Ornette Coleman's approach to violin-playing whenever I listen - this idea of 'I will play it my way, not the 'proper way' - so there is much string-scraping and plucking, as we hear the players finding out what sounds they can make. Mingus said Jazz was the sound of surprise, well, if it's long-since ceased to be that, in Sun Ra it is, at least, the sound of an ongoing journey of discovery.

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