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Sunrise in Different Dimensions - Sun Ra Arkestra CD

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (23 Aug. 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Hatology
  • ASIN: B003NVOUEU
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,348 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

A new issue of this album of 71 minutes of prime Sun Ra recorded live in Switzerland in 1980. The Arkestra on this occasion featured an array of five saxophonists/flautists, trumpeter, two drummers and Ra at the piano, on a selection of standards and Ra originals.

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Format: Audio CD
This is the first review for this CD, released in 2010 but recorded in 1980, of a concert given by the Sun Ra Arkestra in Switzerland whilst on a european tour. I have given this album three stars because I'm unable to decide: one star or five stars! A quandary that I seldom feel.
For those unfamiliar with Sun Ra (b. Hermon Blount 1914). Ra is a pianist, heavily influenced by the early masters (Waller, Tatum, Ellington) but also influenced later by the "free jazz school". Sun Ra believes thay he is inspired by extra-terrestial spirts.
Looking at the sleeve the programme for the concert includes a number of tunes from the big band era: "Cocktails For Two", "Big John Special", "Yeah Man", "Queer Notions", "Limehouse Blues", "King Porter Special", "Take The A Train"; add two from the bebop era: "'Round Midnight" and "Lady Bird" and one may expect a pretty conventional big band concert. Then one notices "Pin-Points Of Spiral Prisms", "Silhouettes Of The ashadow World" or "Disguised Gods in Skull-duggery Rendez-Vous" and one has second thoughts.
The "Arkestra" comprises nine musicians: piano, five saxophonists, trumpet and two drums. Things get weirder.
The whole concert is high volume and often high temp apparent chaos. Recognising the well known tunes is not easy; then familiar phrases are heard, only to disappear. Somehow order is maintained within the chaos of what sounds like nine musicians doing their own thing. Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz" album comes to mind, but equally the British big band "Loose Tubes". The audience is wild with appreciation.
However by the end, 71 minutes later, one realises that the music has held your attention.
Devotees of Sun Ra will give an instant five star grading; strangers are more likely to award just one star. Purchasers aware!
(and I still am not sure which grade to give!).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Otherwordly 3 May 2007
By Joe Pierre - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Hmmmm... it looks like this one is back in print and available. Here is my review from back in 2000:
_____

This is my favorite Sun Ra album, featuring a 10 person ensemble with Sun Ra sticking to mostly piano and including the essential Marshall Allen (alto, oboe, and flute) and John Gilmore (tenor, clarinet, flute). It is from a live concert in Switzerland recorded in 1980 and originally released as a double LP. The recording quality is excellent, and much better than the usual Sun Ra fare. The music includes a mix of standards (Take the A Train, King Porter Stomp, Round Midnight, etc.) with some freer orginals (Light From a Hidden Sun, Disguised Gods in Skullduggery, etc.) along with a requisite June Tyson vocal number (On Jupiter). The performances are excellent and provide a nice example of a latter day Sun Ra live set. I have heard some people pan the version of Round Midnight here, but I find it outrageous and quite enjoyable.

I have awaited the re-release of this on CD for years, but unfortunately two numbers, "Provocative Celestials" and "Love in Outer Space" were deleted to fit the concert on a single CD. The former features some bombastic free jazz with an extraordinary solo of upper register wailing (Allen on oboe?), while the latter is a classic ethereal number with Sun Ra on organ. I can't bring myself to purchase the CD knowing that these performances are missing!

_____

And now the update... I finally picked this up on CD recently since the price had come down, so here are some updated thoughts... First, Amazon still has the track listing wrong, as it did with the old version. My CD (from the limited edition 2001 pressing) has only 15 tracks. There are 3 omitted numbers (compared to the original 2LP release), not just two, and they include "Provocative Celestials" and "Love in Outer Space" as well as "On Jupiter." You'll notice that the Amazon listing erroneously includes "On Jupiter" and also lists repeats of both "Lightnin'" and "A Helio-Hello..." The total CD playing time is 71.04, so in actuality there is room, under today's CD capacities, to at least re-insert "Love in Outer Space" and "On Jupiter," and I still wish they would.

"Love in Outer Space" is something of an Arkestra anthem and during this concert is the only track on which Sun Ra leaves the piano in favor of his playful merry-go-round/circus style organ. I still miss it. "On Jupiter" is also something of a concert staple, since the Arkestra often played a vocal space chant during their live shows (such as "Sunset on the Nile" or "Next Stop Mars"). The chants are perhaps an acquired taste, but there is some great soloing on top of it. And then there's "Provocative Celestials," which features some apocalyptic free horn soloing by Gilmore and then Allen for some ridiculously high octave sax - by far the best track from the concert, but not on the CD.

As for the music that did make it on the CD, the opening number "Light From a Hidden Sun" is an acoustic piano solo from Ra that really showcases his talent unlike anything else I've ever heard from him. In less than 4 minutes, he displays a delicate, lyrical touch in some places, and in others he pounds away in a fashion barely distinguishable from Cecil Taylor. What a great opener -- this, as well as the rest of the album, reminds me what an under-recognized pianist Ra was. "Pinpoints" also starts with Tayloresque soloing, but quickly incorporates the band and highlights Michael Ray on trumpet, who plays some echo-ey vamps, with the other horns joining in. Things really take off in earnest on "Silhouettes" with some incediary tenor sax soloing by Gilmore, and then some extended high-register alto by Allen that just blows me away. This is the same kind of stuff on the omitted "Provocative Celestials" that I miss so much, but somewhat more tame. After those 3 originals, the Arkestra pays tribute to Ra's roots with 5 oldtimer big-band standards, one free original ("Disguised Gods...") and then 5 more standards before the concluding number. This programming, along with Ra on piano, gives the overall album less of a spacey feel (which, the liner notes tell us, is also why the producer chose to omit those particular 3 `missing' tracks), but that doesn't mean the playing is retro. On top of the standard rhythms, there is plenty of amazing individual free soloing by Allen, Gilmore, and Ray that sounds like they're spitting hellfire. No one else plays like this anymore -- check out the horn pyrotechnics on "Silhouettes," Gilmore bringing "'Round Midnight" to a close, Allen's oboe on "Disguised Gods...," and then Gilmore, Ray's upper register trumpet, and Ra's McCoy Tyner-like playing on "Lady Bird." On other numbers, the group's in tight big-band unison, weaving seamlessly between rollicking melody and joyful, blustery free territory -- as on "'Round Midnight," "Lady Bird/Half Nelson," "Yeah Man!" and "Take the `A' Train." The last track (preceded by "On Jupiter" on the LP) is a kind of throwaway, spastic way of saying goodnight - about as free as free jazz gets.

All in all a fantastic album, with the Arkestra in a scaled down ensemble with Ra at the acoustic helm. I'm not going to stop complaining about the missing tracks, but you won't notice, so pick it up anyway while it's still in print.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sun Ra, Are you listening? 22 July 2011
By S. Marinas-F - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Back in the mid-1980s I attended grad school in the Midwest. Our university had a fine performing arts series that brought in world-class acts like Alvin Ailey and John Houseman's theatre company. As a relatively "poor" grad student, I attended most shows for free as an usher. That's how I ended up seeing Sun Ra.

During the first half of the concert, I had to stand in the back and guard the doors against intrusions, and Sun Ra and his groups played what can only be described as the *weirdest* "music" I had ever heard. This was avant-avant garde being played to a polite Midwestern crowd (about half the audience waited until the intermission...and then left). But I stayed and sat with a group of friends. During the second half the group played more "conventional" fusion jazz.

I attended a lot of mostly hard rock concerts in the 1970s and started going to jazz concerts in the 1980s, and all in all, Sun Ra was and still is THE best concert I have ever attended for any type of music. I had always wanted a Sun Ra CD but if I couldn't have a live performance, then I wasn't going to buy one. But then I found "Sunrise in Different Dimensions."

Caveat emptor. I wouldn't recommend Sun Ra to anyone who is not prepared for musical weirdness. And it's definitely not the same as seeing Sun Ra in person. But since Sun Ra's no longer available to be seen on this planet, if you're up for "something completely different", go for it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant live from Switzerland by the Space Maestro 10 Jan. 2008
By Jostein Berntsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here is great live concert from Switzerland from the 70's by the brilliant and always exploring artist Sun Ra. The previous reviewer says it all, and I wholeheartedly agree, This is a must.

One of his most spritzy song titles is here: "Disguised Gods in Skullduggery Rendez Vous", as well as a wonderful mix of many of his own works with jazz standards.

Very nice packaging and liner notes by HatArt too. This one is worth the price and more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dimensions of Sound 28 Aug. 2008
By Best Of All - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Utilizing a nonet, Sun Ra magically travels through swing tunes and mystical numbers in the 71 minute concert performance from Switzerland.

Released as a double album in 1980, it is continuum of art, with Limehouse Blues, Take the "A" Train and King Porter Stomp working with Pin-Points of Spiral Prisms and A Helio-Hello! And Goodbye Too! to deliver a vast repertoire, with Lady Bird/Half Nelson being the standout.

The Arkestra is Sun Ra (piano, organ), Chris Henderson & Eric Walker (drums), tenor John Gilmore, altoist Marshall Allen, baritonist Danny Thompson, trumpeter Michael Ray and the reeds of Kenneth Williams & Knoel Scott. Vocalist June Tyson is also heard on several numbers.

An interesting collection, it provides a glimpse into the vast vision of sound of Sun Ra.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific live performance. 9 Feb. 2015
By daniel tricarico - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
First time I have heard this album. Silhouettes of the Shadow World is the real deal.
Spiritual music for the non religious.
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