I thought it was a bit of a tease to mention Sun Ra in the last post without including some of his music, so here is the compilation of unreleased recordings that was released on the infamous noise label, Blast First, back in 1989. These tunes were all recorded in some New York loft apartment sometime in the late '60s, yet this is a strangely accessible and coherent album, its various styles and textures being held together by the murky lo-fi quality of the recordings. If you've never heard Sun Ra, then this album is a really good springboard into his amazing soundworlds.
In the Kool Keith post I touched upon some stuff about Kool Keith's use of alter egos, something also important in Sun Ra's artistic and spiritual life. While many people often think of Sun Ra as a jazz crackpot with a thing about Saturn, in 'reality' he was something of a mystic, a deeply knowledgeable trickster who constantly tried to bring heaven and earth closer together and who attempted to marry knowledge of ancient African spirituality with space age rhetoric in order to promote the kind of human understanding that could free humanity from its home-made chains. Here's an excerpt from John F. Szwed's excellent biography, Space is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra, in which Sun Ra discusses his change of name from Herman 'Sonny' Blount, and his reemergence as an Egyptian god:
""Sun Ra is not a person, it's a business name...it's a certificate which was gotten in New York City; they didn't notice that I didn't have down there what my business was. They stamped it, notarized it, and they filed it. So therefore, it's a business name, and my business is changing the planet. If Jesus had done that, gone and gotten himself a business certificate, he'd have had the right and he wouldn't have had to go up there on the cross"
...So Sun Ra was a stage name, in the tradition of jazz royalty, but no one, not even the most desperately ambitious entertainer, had ever assumed the name of a god, and defied mortality.
He was well aware of the implications of his choice, and the African-American tradition of naming which lay behind it. Once, while speculating on why black people were treated as property in the United States...he saw that they were considered as goods, a word he in turn traced to the Middle English "god". And as gods (as with kings and queens) they had no last names. When these names bacame necessary they were given or took those of their white owners.
"That's why I don't use no name except Ra because I saw that, and I'm not going to go and take somebody else's name, I'm not going to do that. I got my name, the Creator gave me my name.""
John F. Szwed (1997) Space is the Place
Edinburgh: Payback Press
Edinburgh: Payback Press
Here is Bill Sebastian's incredible film for 'Calling Planet Earth' which is the source of the cover images on 'Out There A Minute':
|1. Love in Outer Space|
|2. Somewhere in Space|
|3. Dark Clouds With Silver Linings|
|4. Jazz and Romantic Sounds|
|5. When Angels Speak of Love|
| 6. Cosmo Enticement |
|7. Song of Tree and Forest|
|8. Other Worlds|
|9. Journey Outward|
|10. Lights on a Satellite|
|11. Starships and Solar Boats|
| 12. Out There a Minute|
Get this great album HERE.