Pub. Date:
In the Orbit of Ra

In the Orbit of Ra

by Sun Ra & His ArkestraSun Ra & His Arkestra


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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.

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Product Details

Release Date: 09/23/2014
Label: Strut Records
UPC: 0730003310928
catalogNumber: 109
Rank: 147211


Disc 1

  1. Somewhere in Space
  2. The Lady with the Golden Stockings (aka The Golden Lady)
  3. Somebody Else's World
  4. Spontaneous Simplicity
  5. Plutonian Nights
  6. Angels and Demons at Play
  7. Island in the Sun
  8. Rocket Number Nine Take Off for the Planet Venus
  9. Solar Differentials

Disc 2

  1. Astro Black
  2. Have You Heard the Latest News from Neptune
  3. Dance of the Cosmo Aliens
  4. Trying to Put the Blame on Me
  5. Planet Earth
  6. The Nile
  7. Reflects Motion, Pt. 1
  8. Reflects Motion, Pt. 2
  9. Ancient Aiethiopia
  10. Interplanetary Music
  11. We Travel the Spaceways

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sun Ra & His Arkestra   Primary Artist
John Gilmore   Percussion,Drums,Tenor Saxophone,Tambourine,Vocals
James Spaulding   Flute,Alto Saxophone
Charles Davis   Baritone Saxophone
Marshall Allen   Flute,Percussion,Oboe,Alto Saxophone,Vocals,Bells,Mouthpiece,Interviewee
Ronnie Boykins   Bass,Percussion,Vocals
Clifford Jarvis   Drums
Luqman Ali   Drums,Vocals
Robert Barry   Percussion,Drums
Alejandro Blake   Bass
Russell Branch   Percussion,Conga
William Brister   Percussion
Phil Cohran   Percussion,Cornet,Vocals
Robert Cummings   Percussion
Ahk Tal Ebah   Trumpet,Flugelhorn,Mellowphone
Kwame Hadi   Trumpet
Jon Hardy   Percussion,Drums,Gong
Ben Henderson   Bass
Judith Holton   Vocals
George Hudson   Trumpet
Lex Humphries   Percussion,Drums
Nimrod Hunt   Hand Drums
Stanley Morgan   Percussion,Conga
Larry Northington   Percussion,Conga,Alto Saxophone
Eloe Omoe   Flute,Percussion,Bass Clarinet
Pat Patrick   Flute,Percussion,Electric Bass,Bongos,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Vocals,Bells,Claves
Nate Pryor   Trombone
Sun Ra   Organ,Synthesizer,Piano,Chimes,Gong,Electric Piano,Vocals,Moog Synthesizer,farfisa organ,Rocksichord,Wurlitzer,Mini Moog,Spiral Percussion Gong,Chinese Gong
Lucious Randolph   Trumpet
Michael Ray   Trumpet,Vocals
Harry Richards   Percussion,Drums
Charles Stephens   Trombone
C. Scoby Stroman   Drums
June Tyson   Vocals
Robert Underwood   Drums
Alzo Wright   Percussion,Violin,Drums,Viola
Ruth Wright   Vocals,Background Vocals
James Jacson   Percussion,Oboe
Jim Herndon   Timbales,Timpani
Cheryl Banks   Vocals,Background Vocals
Tommy Hunter   Percussion,Drums
Danny Ray Thompson   Flute,Percussion,Baritone Saxophone,Vocals
James Jackson   Log Drums
Lamont McClamb   Percussion,Trumpet
William Cochran   Drums,Vocals
Danny Davis   Flute,Percussion,Alto Saxophone,Alto Clarinet
Judith Holten   Background Vocals
Chica   Conga
Danny Thompson   Bongos,Baritone Saxophone

Technical Credits

Alan Bates   Producer
Marshall Allen   Composer
Ronnie Boykins   Composer
Alton Abraham   Producer
Sun Ra   Arranger,Composer,drum programming
Matt Thame   Graphic Design
Val Wilmer   Photo Courtesy
Peter Dennett   Liner Notes,Interviewer
Tommy Hunter   Engineer,Reverb
Lewis Heriz   Cover Design

Customer Reviews