ArtistSUN RA
Catalog #AY 001CD
ReleaseW 38 - 2007
FormatCD - UK2CD
€ 24,90incl. VAT, excl. shipping


Info from Artyard: “January 1978 was a fruitful month for Sun Ra. As well as days spent in the recording studios in Rome, Ra, along with John Gilmore, Michael Ray and Luqman Ali, played several gigs in Italy before flying back to the US. The magic music from one night in the Teatro Cilak, on 23/01/1978 in Milan, is preserved on Disco 3000.† Sun Ra's musical activity that winter is well attested: a CD from a piano concert in Venice in November 1977, two double albums cut in the studio for the Horo label in January 1978. The Italian tour also resulted in releases on Sun Ra's own Saturn label, although the records have long been out of print and all but impossible to find. With the re-release of DISCO 3000 and MEDIA DREAMS, two of these elusive Saturn albums and arguably among the most important documents of Sun Ra's long musical career, are now once more available. They represent a real pinnacle of creativity, even for this prolific period of the late 1970s, when his record output hit a peak: 1977-8 saw some twenty Sun Ra albums, plus two video documents. On Disco 3000 and Media Dreams you have the chance to hear Sun Ra's music performed by a quartet, rather than his full Arkestra. Sun Ra was joined in Italy by saxophonist John Gilmore, trumpeter Michael Ray and drummer Luqman Ali. Sun Ra himself played piano and electronic keyboards, including a Crumar Mainman. The sparse instrumentation is based on extraordinary and worthy contrasts. Luqman Ali played drums with Sun Ra around 1960, as Edward Skinner. This 1978 group represents his reappearance after an apparent absence of many years. The saxophone of John Gilmore, a soloist in Sun Ra aggregations since the early 1950s, is paired with the trumpet of relative newcomer Michael Ray. Ray's exposure as a soloist here is considerable - far greater than in his role in the Arkestra. The partnership of Gilmore and Ray, combined with the prominence and nature of Sun Ra's electronics, gives these albums their unique flavour. Sun Ra's keyboard work expands here to supply both bass lines (some pre-programmed) and electronic percussion. From this perspective it is interesting to compare this music to that on an earlier 'electronic' album of Sun Ra's, "My Brother The Wind" - Ra had developed a much wider group role for his electronics by this point. The Crumar Mainman used on Disco 3000 and Media Dreams is an instrument of some mystery. Apparently undocumented by Crumar, it seems to have been made in very small numbers. Sun Ra bought his Mainman in Italy during this 1977-8 tour. In an interview with Len Lyons for Keyboard magazine, he describes it as "like a piano, organ, clavichord, cello, violin and brass instruments." The Crumar keyboard pictured circa 1978 in Robert Mugge's Sun Ra documentary "Sound of Joy" is probably the same Mainman. Sun Ra seems to have abandoned the Mainman by 1980. The title track of Disco 3000 is taken from sections of concert performance: relatively open structures, with relatively few predetermined sections. Sun Ra steers the pieces with keyboard interventions. Melodic sections are introduced, evolve, are reprised. Most notably, bass patterns are used for lengthy sections - something new in Ra's music at this time. Most of the pieces are instant compositions, never to be repeated. The recognisable tunes do include one rare Ra composition ("Third Planet"), as well as the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" thinly disguised as "Dance of the Cosmo-Aliens". This whole Sun Ra quartet project from Italy in early 1978 has a particular 'experimental' feel, unique in a particular way in Sun Ra's huge and varied recorded output. Innovation is hardly unexpected from Sun Ra - his music regularly pushes the envelope. However, this project represents a tryout for a different kind of music altogether, a small-group music. In the end it was a musical path Sun Ra left unexplored, it has little in the way of precedent or sequel on record. It has stood the test of time well: give Disco 3000 a listen! Chris Trent :†. “The total Running Time of CD One is 67.12 The running time of CD Two is 63.26 Sun Ra { piano, organ, moog synth, rhythm machine, vocals } John Gilmore { tenor sax, drums, vocals } Michael Ray { trumpet, vocals } Luqman Ali { drums, vocals } June Tyson { vocals }

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