mythology, astro-timeless immortality!
Astro Black has long
been known as a cornerstone of the Ra catalog. It is well recorded, features a
superb Arkestral lineup, and successfully combines several of the styles in
which Sun Ra orbited, from Saturnic jazz to astro-funk. And now it’s in the
earthly bins on CD for the first time, with new cover art, and liner notes by
Robert Campbell (author of The
Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra)!
Although Astro Black was obviously professionally produced in a
recording studio, no one is entirely sure where or when. The jacket of the
original release gave the date as May 7, 1972, and the location as “El Saturn
Studio,” Chicago. There never was such an animal as the El Saturn studio, in
Chicago or in any other town. Yet it was routinely cited as the venue for
Saturn/Impulse! recordings, no matter how old they were or where they were
originally from. Besides, May 1972 was the month that the Arkestrans had to
pack up all their belongings and leave the house they had been staying in in
Oakland, California, because they gotten on the wrong side of the Black
Panthers. The road trip from Oakland back to Philadelphia would have taken some
The title track was a vehicle for Arkestral vocalist June Tyson,
who had been with the band since 1967 and was in absolute peak form in 1972.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Boykins, who had been Sunny’s full-time bassist from 1957
through 1968, was a welcome guest on this occasion. It is his ostinato that
holds the theme statement together, and his arco that guides and accompanies
Sunny on his space wandering, where they are joined by Akh Tal Ebah on trumpet,
and by the ecstatically interweaving alto saxes of Marshall Allen and Danny
Davis. A trio of wriggling alto (Danny Davis), mini-Moog synthesizers, and high
bowed bass develops, with Sunny and Ronnie accompanying Tyson’s hushed
recapitulation. This is one of the Arkestra’s greatest performances.
Also available on colored vinyl!