Sun Ra's World - Chicago 1955-61

In celebration of the centenary of the coming of Sun Ra, heres a mix of standout boundary breaking tracks from early days of the Arkestra, while they were based in Chicago. By 1962 they had decamped to New York and went all out on their mission to conquer inner and outer space. The albums recorded in Chicago are unusual in that material on them was often recorded at different times/years and so there's a mix of ideas and forms on them. This mix leaves out the relatively more traditional swing and big band numbers for the more experimental tracks from the period. Maybe thats unfair to do, as it seems their sets did include a mixture of both styles, but so be it.

Worth remembering how early in the evolution of jazz this material is, so far ahead of its time, and so perhaps its not surprising that most of these albums were pressed in print runs of no more than 75 copies at the time (or so I have read). The world caught up in the end...

Looking through the titles of the tracks picked out for this, it happens that this selection seem to relate to the planet earth more than the full on space odysseys which are trademark to Sun Ra, hence calling this mix Sun Ra's World. So yeah, keeping it earthy, with lots of drum and percussion heavy tracks, including the unorthodox  inclusion of timpani in the line-up from Jim Herndon.

Anecdote about the opening track: Sun was breaking away from steady work in clubs etc and getting random gigs with the early incarnation of the Arkestra...a medical friend got him work playing for a group of patients at a Chicago mental hospital. "The group of patients assembled for this early experiment in musical therapy including catatonic and sever schizophrenics, but Sonny approached the job like any other, making no concessions in his music. While he was playing a woman, who it was said had not moved or spoken for years, got up from the floor, walked directly to his piano and cried out "Do you call that music?"

Sonny was delighted with the response and told the story for years afterwards as evidence of the healing powers of music. Advice for Medics commemorates this experience. Seems like a good way to start and break the spell of slumber........ and thought Id finish the trip by bringing it back to Realville on the last track, with an early more grounded and swinging tune from 1955.

Sun Ra's World - Chicago 1955-61

Advice to Medics [Super-Sonic Jazz 1956]
India [Super-Sonic Jazz 1956]
China Gates [The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra 1961]
Overtones of China [The Sound of Joy 1956]
El is a Sound of Joy [Super-Sonic Jazz 1956]
Paradise [The Sound of Joy 1956]
Planet Earth [...Visits Planet Earth 1956-58]
Africa [The Nubians of Plutonia 1958-59]
Watusa [The Nubians of Plutonia 1958-59]
Kingdom of Thunder [Fate in a Pleasent Mood 1960]
Tiny Pyramids [Angels and Deamons at Play 1960]
Ancient Aiethopia [Jazz in Silhouette 1959]
Lullaby for Realville [Jazz by Sun Ra 1955]

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