You got to hand it to late Sun Ra, the guy was definitely 'out there' but man did he leave us with a wealth of incredible music to digest over the course of over five decades as a working jazz musician. Even almost twenty years after his passing new generations of music fans are getting turned on to his varied approach to jazz and cosmic philosophies.
The good folks over at Art Yard/ ReR USA have just issued The Antique Blacks, a much sought after live recording from Philadelphia in the fall of 1974 featuring Sun and his Solar Arkestra, which at the time consisted of longtime members John Gilmore, Marshall Allen and Danny Davis on saxophones, along with Akh Tal Ebah on trumpet, Clifford Jarvis on drums, James Jackson on bassoon and percussion, Atakatune also on percussion, and a new guitarist simply known as Sly.
This eight song offering feels more like a studio album due to the noticeable absence of the audience and the fact that six of the compositions only appear on this recording save for renditions of "Nature's God" and Space is the Place".
For the most part this is a pretty tame recording in the sense that there isn't an abundance of what I'd call free jazz sounds as far as the sax trio is concerned. However, that being said Gilmore, Allen and Davis do veer off into the odd, uncontrolled cacophonous flurry, but they come in short bursts so it isn't too hard to digest if you're not into the whole free jazz / avant-garde thing. Four tracks, "There is a Change in the Air", "The Antique Blacks", "The Ridiculous "I" and The Cosmos Me" are all unique in that the music is accompanied with spoken poetry. As for Ra well the majority of his sounds are pulled from a rocksichord, which I guess is an instrument similar in nature to the harpsichord. He gets some pretty wild and avant-garde sounds out of his mini moog as well on "Would I For All That Were", a track where guitarist Sly also gets into the act with some interesting wah-wah textures to go along with Sun's percolating moog bursts. The aforementioned "Space is the Place" and "You Thought You Could Build A World Without Us" really finds the unit kicking things into a higher gear as Ra once again really works his moog to gets some pretty bizarre and spacey sounds out of the instrument.
This is an absolutely excellent reissue and another long lost gem from the master of interplanetary space travel. If you're a fan of Sun Ra and his vast back catalogue of work then you definitely be making some room on your shelf for The Antique Blacks.
1) Song No. 1
2) There is Change in The Air
3) The Antique Blacks
4) This Song is Dedicated to Nature's God
5) The Ridiculous "I" and the Cosmos Me
6) Would I For All That Were
7) Space is the Place
8) You Thought You Could Build A World Without Us