The Magic City

The Magic City

by Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra

CD

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Overview

The Magic City

The boundaries of Sun Ra's self-proclaimed "space jazz" underwent a transformation in the mid-'60s. The Magic City is an aural snapshot of that metamorphic process. Many enthusiasts and scholars consider this to be among Ra's most definitive studio recordings. Although the "city" in the album's title was thought to have been New York -- where the disc was recorded -- it is actually Ra's earthly birthplace of Birmingham, AL. The Magic City consists of four free jazz compositions: the album side-length title track, "The Shadow World," "Abstract Eye," and "Abstract I" -- two variants of a common work. These pieces are essentially ensemble improvisations recorded live. Any direction from Ra, indicating the order of soloists for instance, would be given either through his playing or with hand signals. Sun Ra & His Solar Myth Arkestra took up residency in Manhattan's East Village in the early to mid-'60s. Their neighbors included Pharaoh Sanders as well as Babatunde Olatunji. In fact, "The Shadow World," "Abstract Eye," and "Abstract I" were actually recorded in Olatunji's loft. The title track begins with weaving distant and frenetic lines from Ronnie Boykins (bass) and Ra (piano, clavoline), connected by intermittent eruptions from Roger Blank (drums). All the while, Marshall Allen's dreamlike piccolo randomly maneuvers through the sonic haze. The piece also contains an ensemble onslaught that abruptly contrasts with everything experienced up through that point. In the wake of the innately earthbound "Magic City" are three comparatively shorter pieces with subtle undercurrents that return Ra to space motifs. For example, the importance of sonic contrast defines "The Shadow World" by juxtaposing the lightly churning bass and cymbal into some surreal keyboard interjections from Ra. The Magic City also comes with an insightful liner notes essay from Ra scholar John F. Szwed, aiding in understanding the circumstances surrounding this piece of free jazz genius.

Product Details

Release Date: 11/25/1993
Label: Evidence
UPC: 0730182206920
catalogNumber: 22069

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra   Primary Artist
John Gilmore   Percussion,Tenor Saxophone
Marshall Allen   Flute,Percussion,Piccolo,Alto Saxophone
Ronnie Boykins   Bass
Roger Blank   Drums
Chris Capers   Percussion,Trumpet
Robert Cummings   Percussion,Bass Clarinet
Ali Hassan   Trombone
Walter Miller   Trumpet
Teddy Nance   Trombone
Pat Patrick   Flute,Baritone Saxophone,Timpani
Bernard Pettaway   Bass Trombone
Sun Ra   Piano,Celeste,Drums,Harp,Marimbas,Timpani,Track Performer,Clavioline,Electronic Celeste
Harry Spencer   Alto Saxophone
Jimmy Johnson   Drums
James Jacson   Percussion
Danny Davis   Flute,Percussion,Alto Saxophone

Technical Credits

Alton Abraham   Producer
Jerry Gordon   Producer,Reissue Producer
Sun Ra   Composer
John F. Szwed   Liner Notes
William White   Cover Art
Ihnfinity Inc.   Producer

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