September 26, 2010

Sun Ra Sunday

I apologize for the lack of substantive writing on Sun Ra Sundays of late. Honestly, I’ve been taking a little bit of a break. Moreover, I’ve been working on a different kind of Sun Ra project the past few weeks: My friends, Scott and Rose, are getting married next week and they asked me to come up with some “Happy Ra” for the wedding reception. What an amazingly cool idea! Here’s what I came up with:

Disc 1:
1. Dreaming (The Cosmic Rays) (from The Singles) (Saturn/Evidence)
2. Stranger in Paradise (Nu Sounds) (from Spaceship Lullaby) (Atavistic)
3. ‘Round Midnight (from Sound Sun Pleasure!!) (Saturn/Evidence)
4. You Never Told Me That You Care (from Sound Sun Pleasure!!) (Saturn/Evidence)
5. Hour of Parting (from Sound Sun Pleasure!!) (Saturn/Evidence)
6. Back In Our Own Backyard (from Sound Sun Pleasure!!) (Saturn/Evidence)
7. Enlightenment (from Sound Sun Pleasure!!) (Saturn/Evidence)
8. I Could Have Danced All Night (from Sound Sun Pleasure!!) (Saturn/Evidence)
9. But Not For Me (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
10. Day By Day (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
11. Holiday for Strings (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
12. Dorothy’s Dance (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
13. Early Autumn (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
14. I Loves You, Porgy (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
15. Body and Soul (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
16. Keep Your Sunny Side Up (from Holiday for Soul Dance) (Saturn/Evidence)
17. Paradise (from Sound of Joy) (Delmark)
18. Dreams Come True (from Sound of Joy) (Delmark)
19. Sometimes I’m Happy (from Nuclear War) (Saturn/Atavistic)
20. Tapestry from an Asteroid (from The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra) (Savoy)

The first disc was a no-brainer, consisting of Sun Sound Pleasure!! and Holiday for Soul Dance in their entirety. These albums find Sun Ra and his Arkestra at their most straight ahead and easy to digest, including some romantic crooning that should fit the mood. Of course, this being Sun Ra, the arrangements are sometimes a little strange and already in the 1950s Sonny was exploring electronic keyboards to interesting effect. I also had to include a couple of love-sick doo-wop tracks just for fun along with some otherwise stylistically congruent tracks from Sound of Joy and Nuclear War. Finally, “Tapestry from an Asteroid” (from The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra) is so pretty, I couldn’t help but tack it on at the end.

Disc 2:
1. Lullaby for Realville (from Sun Song) (Delmark)
2. Fate in a Pleasant Mood (from Fate In a Pleasant Mood) (Saturn/Evidence)
3. Ankhnaton (from Fate In a Pleasant Mood) (Saturn/Evidence)
4. Reflections In Blue (from Visits Planet Earth) (Saturn/Evidence)
5. Planet Earth (from Visits Planet Earth) (Saturn/Evidence)
6. Interstellar Low Ways (from Interstellar Low Ways) (Saturn/Evidence)
7. Plutonian Nights (from Angels and Demons at Play) (Saturn/Evidence)
8. Rocket #9 (from The Singles) (Saturn/Evidence)
9. Love In Outer Space (from The Singles) (Saturn/Evidence)
10. Island In the Sun (from Janus) (1201 Music)
11. Sun-Earth Rock (from Night of the Purple Moon) (Saturn/Atavistic)
12. Dance of the Living Image (from Night of the Purple Moon) (Saturn/Atavistic)
13. Otherness Blue (from My Brother the Wind, Vol. II) (Saturn/Evidence)
14. Walking On the Moon (from My Brother the Wind, Vol. II) (Saturn/Evidence)
15. Drop Me Off In Harlem (from Nuclear War) (Saturn/Atavistic)
16. Celestial Love (from Nuclear War) (Saturn/Atavistic)

Disc two was a little more complicated, with lots of strong contenders which just didn’t make the cut. I tried keep the mood light (but not too jumpy) and rejected any tracks that suffered from especially poor sound quality or just got a little too weird, while still capturing some of the magical qualities of Ra’s music in the Sixties and Seventies. No easy task! I’m listening to the disc as I write this, and I think it works pretty well, moving as it does from late-Fifties rocking and riffing to floating space rhumbas to Rocksichord boogaloos—and, of course, there is a heaping heaping of Sun Ra’s patented space-age barbeque organ thrown on top to boot. Maybe that will get people up and dancing.

Disc 3:
1. Song No.1 (from Antique Blacks) (Saturn/Art Yard)
2. Where Pathways Meet (from Lanquidity) (Saturn/Evidence)
3. That’s How I Feel (from Lanquidity) (Saturn/Evidence)
4. Twin Stars of Thence (from Lanquidity) (Saturn/Evidence)
5. On Jupiter (from On Jupiter) (Saturn/Art Yard)
6. UFO (from On Jupiter) (Saturn/Art Yard)
7. Door of the Cosmos (from Sleeping Beauty) (Saturn/Art Yard)
8. Sleeping Beauty (from Sleeping Beauty) (Saturn/Art Yard)

If that doesn’t work, then disc three ought to get the booty shaking, gathering plum tracks from Ra’s “disco” albums, Lanquidity, On Jupiter, and Sleeping Beauty, while opening with the extended groove-fest, “Song No.1,” from the otherwise disturbingly polemical Antique Blacks. Then again, perhaps this stuff really is too “out there” for most people. We’ll see how it goes over. In any event, it’s been a lot of fun to put this all together and I’m pretty sure the bride and groom will enjoy it—and that is what counts.

(Thanks (as usual) to Sam Byrd for his invaluable input on this project!)


Sam said...

Great line-up, Rodger! It should be a thrilling wedding with this music! And yeah, it'd be hard to leave out anything on "Holiday for Soul Dance" and "Sun Sound Pleasure!!" --those are truly SUNNY albums.

Anonymous said...

that is some project! i would not even know where to begin! maybe those mixes, as mp3s, could be available afterwards through some download site?

I-) ihor

Anonymous said...

hello rodger,

i had been thinking about your wedding mix, and thinking about what i would have put down. okay, no idea - i have total mixmaster block!

but... i have enjoyed the mixes by dr. auratheft, especially this one, which seems very danceable. maybe this will give you some ideas? list and link below.

btw - i could not figure out how to email you, so i am using this comment to send this to you. i don't think there is anything very useful to post as a comment from me, so just delete this when you have finished it.

I-) ihor


Sunday, August 12, 2007
Spontaneous Simplicity. Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Volume Three

1 Blue Soul
2 Egypt Strut
3 Sun-Earth Rock
4 The Night of the Purple Moon
5 Sleeping Beauty
6 Pink Elephants On Parade
7 Mu
8 21st Century Romance
9 Dance of the Living Image
10 The Voice of Pan
11 Intergalactic Motion
12 The All of Everything
13 China Gate (live)
14 Spontaneous Simplicity
15 Blue Soul (reprise)


Mark Folse said...

Do you have a slightly higher hi-res I can print for my Shrine of Sun-Ra I put out in front of my house across from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival?

Rodger Coleman said...

@ Mark Folse - I'm afraid to say I shamelessly stole the image off the internet. So, no, I do not have a higher-resolution copy of the image. I'd love to see your Shrine of Sun Ra!

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