The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra

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The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
Futuristic-SunR.jpg
Studio album by
Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Released1962 (1962) [1] [2]
RecordedOctober 10, 1961 Newark, New Jersey [3]
Genre Jazz
Length41:51
Label Savoy Records
Producer Tom Wilson
Sun Ra and his Arkestra chronology
We Travel the Space Ways
(1956)
The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
(1962)
Bad and Beautiful
(1961)
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
Allmusic (LP)Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [4]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [5]

The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra is an album by the American jazz musician Sun Ra and his Arkestra, recorded October 10, 1961 for the Savoy label and released in 1962. [1] [2]

Contents

The album was supervised by Tom Wilson, who would later produce albums by the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan.

History

The first record to be recorded by a pared-down Arkestra after Sun Ra and the core of his group left Chicago and relocated to New York City. According to Sun Ra's biographer John Szwed: [6]

'The idea was just to play a few gigs, maybe some studio work, and then go back to Chicago and work at the Pershing [club] again. But as soon as they crossed the George Washington Bridge they collided with a taxi and bent one of the wheels of [bassist] Ronnie Boykins's father's car. With no money to have it fixed they were stranded again. [Sun Ra] went to a phone booth and called Ed Bland and Tom Wilson to tell them they were in town, and the band moved into a couple of hotel rooms over the Peppermint Lounge on 45th Street. But after a few days of waiting, Strickland and Mitchell got anxious, called home for money, and left. The five who remained then moved to a room on 81st Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, and after a few days found a cheaper place farther downtown in the seventies.

'Though the band had no luck finding places to play, Tom Wilson came up with a recording session for them with Savoy Records. On October 10 they crossed the river to the Medallion Studio in Newark with a few musicians they added for the date... and they produced a record which could have easily represented their repertoire during an evening at a club there..... Despite a heavy title and a cover painting of a conga drum swirling like a tornado through a valley of piano keys against an orange sky, the record was plagued from the start. Tom Wilson's liner notes were filled with inaccuracies: Distribution was almost as poor as it was with the Saturn records, and there was no reviews for twenty-three years, when it was reissued in 1984 as We Are In The Future.'

Critical reception

The album is often considered one of the most accessible records in Ra's vast catalogue;

'Sun Ra's only release for the Savoy label is a gem... Ra sticks to acoustic piano for the entire session, but various percussion instruments are dispersed throughout the band, giving a slightly exotic flavor to some of the tunes... With the exception of "The Beginning," all the tunes are very accessible. This is one to play for the mistaken folks who think the Arkestra did nothing but make noise. Excellent.' Sean Westergaard, Allmusic

Artwork

The sleeve was designed by 'Harvey', a secretive graphic designer who made over 190 album covers for Savoy and its subsidiaries throughout the 1960s;

"Rev. Lawrence Roberts, long-time producer for Savoy Records... said that they never knew the identity of Harvey. Harvey lived in New York, and was very secretive. They would send him a title or concept and he would produce the painting. The paintings were not expensive, and they paid him in cash." [7]

Releases

The record was reissued in 1984 as We Are In The Future, but regained its original name when it was issued on Compact Disc in 1994. Savoy reissued it again in 2003.

Track listing

All songs written by Sun Ra except 'China Gate'.
Side A:

  1. Bassism - (4.07)
  2. Of Sounds and Something Else - (2.54)
  3. What's That? - (2.15)
  4. Where is Tomorrow? - (2.50)
  5. The Beginning - (6.29)
  6. China Gates (Victor Young) - (3.25)

Side B:

  1. New Day - (5.51)
  2. Tapestry From An Asteroid - (3.02)
  3. Jet Flight - (3.15)
  4. Looking Outward - (2.49)
  5. Space Jazz Reverie - (4.54)

Personnel

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Strange Strings is a somewhat legendary album from the mid-'60s. "Worlds Approaching" is a great tune, anchored by a bass ostinato and timpani and featuring several fantastic solos... Off and on throughout the tune, Bugs Hunter applies near-lethal doses of reverb, giving the piece a very odd but interesting sound. "Strange Strings" is one of those songs that is likely to inspire some sort of "you call that music?" comment from your grandmother, or even from open-minded friends. It sounds like they raided the local pawnshop for anything with strings on it, then passed them out to the bandmembers. It's difficult to tell if some of these instruments have been prepared in some way, or if they're simply being played by untutored hands. There are also lots of drums and some viola playing from Ronnie Boykins that is also treated heavily with reverb. Despite the cacophony, there is a definite ebb and flow to the piece and what seem like different movements or themes. Whatever you think of the music contained, there's no denying that it produced some of the most remarkable sounds of the mid-'60s. If you don't like "out," stay clear of this one.' Sean Westergaard

<i>Some Blues But Not the Kind Thats Blue</i> 1977 studio album by Sun Ra and His Arkestra

Some Blues But Not the Kind That's Blue is an album by jazz composer, bandleader and keyboardist Sun Ra and his Arkestra recorded in 1977, originally released on Ra's Saturn label in 1977, and rereleased on CD on Atavistic's Unheard Music Series in 2008.

References

  1. 1 2 Editorial Staff, Cash Box (18 August 1962). "22 Albums In Fall Program From Savoy" (PDF). Cash Box. The Cash Box Publishing Co. Inc., NY. Retrieved 2 May 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. 1 2 Edwards, David K. "Discography of the Savoy/Regent and Associated Labels" (PDF). BSNpubs. Both Sides Now Publications. Retrieved 2 May 2019.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. Robert L. Campbell's Sun Ra Discography
  4. Allmusic (LP) review
  5. Swenson, J., ed. (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 186. ISBN   0-394-72643-X.
  6. 1 2 John F Szwed Space Is The Place, Mojo, 2000, p183-6
  7. John Glassburner