THE SUN RA MUSIC ARCHIVE
COSMIC MYTH MUSIC / SUN RA REMASTERED
2017-2018 NEW RELEASES
THE MAGIC CITY
SUN RA & HIS SOLAR ARKESTRA (1965)
COSMIC MYTH CMR-001 — COMPLETE & DEFINITIVE STEREO EDITION — LP / CD / DIGITAL RELEASE
Press contact: John Allen firstname.lastname@example.org
facebook.com/SunRaMusic ///// sunramusic.bandcamp.com
On the original 1965 The Magic City LP, issued on Saturn, the monster 27-1/2 minute title track sprawled across side A. The "Magic City" to which Ra refers was his birthplace—Birmingham, Alabama. The term was the town's motto, emblazoned on a billboard by the train station near Sunny's childhood home, intended to reflect the city's explosive growth as a Southern industrial epicenter after the discovery of iron ore, coal, and limestone deposits. Birmingham was a place about which Sun Ra felt and expressed ambivalence: an outpost of racial segregation and grim smokestack-pocked landscapes, yet a city for which he felt twinges of nostalgia and affection. (His heirs still live in the area.)
Ra customarily supervised the Arkestra's improvisational process via keyboard cues or hand signals. He was always in charge—hence critic Simon Adams describing the title track as "27 minutes of controlled freedom." "The Magic City" was never performed in concert; saxophonist John Gilmore said it was "unreproducible, a tapestry of sound."
The Magic City - page 2
Although shorter in scope than side A's magnum opus, the four works on The Magic City's flip side reflect the same improvisational approach, spatiality, and lack of structure. One session outtake, "Other Worlds," an alternate version of "Shadow World," is included as a bonus track on side B.
The Magic City: The Definitive Stereo Edition
Historical and technical liner notes are provided by noted jazz historian Ben Young, who restored and remastered the album with his Triple Point Records partner Joe Lizzi. Both men have been recognized for their production work on Holy Ghost, the Grammy-nominated Albert Ayler boxed set released on John Fahey’s Revenant Records in 2005.
First-generation Saturn pressings of The Magic City were monophonic. The album was reissued on CD by Evidence in 1993 with the title track in mono and the LP side B tracks in stereo. A full stereo version had been issued on Sun Ra's Thoth subsidiary label sometime after 1969; however, it suffered from a technical flaw that prevented many copies of the LP from tracking cleanly through the first cut on side B. A 1973 gatefold LP reissue on Impulse featured reprocessed stereo. For this definitive reissue, Cosmic Myth Records used stereo sources which are superior to the Thoth pressing.
During mastering, Young and Lizzi encountered one peculiar hurdle. "Sun Ra's tympani solo on 'The Shadow World' is especially dynamic," Young explains. "That makes it very tricky to cut the sforzando spikes of his playing into a stereo LP. Indeed the Thoth LP has distortion on most of the peaks and an over cut that tracks defectively on every copy we've examined. This may explain why the initial Saturn LP and the Evidence CD versions were folded to mono, and/or why the Impulse reissue panned most stereo elements toward the center." Young and Lizzi overcame this challenge and managed to restrain the jolts on this vinyl cut, thus succeeding where Thoth did not.
Cosmic Myth Records is a partnership of Irwin Chusid, Michael D. Anderson and Virtual Label Group, working under license from Sun Ra LLC, comprised of the heirs and rights holders of Sun Ra's music. Recordings will primarily use source tapes from Anderson's Sun Ra Music Archive, the world's foremost collection of original Ra session masters. The series is being co-produced and supervised by Chusid (Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Langley School Music Project, Songs in the Key of Z, WFMU).
The second CMR release is an expanded 2-LP edition of My Brother the Wind, Vol. 1, Sun Ra's 1969 Moog synthesizer tour-de-force. Expected for release in September 2017, it will be newly remastered from session tapes and include rare and previously unreleased tracks.
"For me, The Magic City is about the most important recording Sun Ra ever released: so many unprecedented ideas unveiled in one album."
– Christopher Trent, co-author The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra
"If any one piece was intended to be Sun Ra's monument, it is The Magic City."
– Robert L. Campbell, co-author The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra
This landmark album, now being reissued in a definitive stereo edition on LP/CD and digitally, marks the launch of the new Cosmic Myth Records label, a division of The Sun Ra Music Archive. Cosmic Myth will reissue Sun Ra's Saturn Records catalog under official license from Sun Ra LLC, comprised of the artist's heirs.
Sun Ra albums like The Magic City prove the categorical futility of "File Under: Jazz." When assessing the post-Chicago (1960–on) work of Ra, "jazz" turns out to be less a genre than a journalistic and marketing convenience. Jazz has a glorious tradition. Sun Ra was schooled in it, emerged from it, and grew to transcend it (though he never abandoned it). Even the cheeky term "Space Jazz" cannot frame the extremes to which Ra pushed his art in the mid-1960s. In this regard, The Magic City was a pinnacle.
1965 was a turbulent year for the Arkestra and its leader, and many consider The Magic City a flashpoint for that upheaval. Arkestra drummer Tommy Hunter, quoted in John Szwed's 1997 Ra bio Space is the Place, describes a typical performance of the period: "It was like a fire storm coming off the bandstand."
MY BROTHER THE WIND VOL 1
SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INFINITY ARKESTRA (1969)
COSMIC MYTH CMR-002 — REMASTERED & EXPANDED EDITION — 2-LP / CD / DIGITAL RELEASE
Press contact: John Allen email@example.com
facebook.com/SunRaMusic ///// sunramusic.bandcamp.com
My Brother the Wind, Vol. 1 captures Afro-futurist visionary Sun Ra's initial 1969 encounter with the Moog synthesizer. The album has been meticulously remastered from archival session tapes and includes rare and previously unreleased studio material.
Recorded in 1969 and self-released by Sun Ra in 1970 on his independent Saturn label, My Brother the Wind is one of several albums that showcase Ra's initial reckonings with the then-recently introduced Moog synthesizer. Although the Astro Infinity Arkestra is credited on the original Saturn LP sleeve, only three sidemen were on the session—reed players Marshall Allen, John Gilmore, and Danny Davis, with Moog performance pioneer Gershon Kingsley serving as synth programmer and technical consultant.
The original 1970 Saturn release featured four tracks, which are included on disc 1 of this two-LP remastered edition. Disc 2, side A features the complete tracking session of Ra's Moog-centric single "The Perfect Man," with three full takes of the title, including two previously unissued versions. Side B of disc 2 features the monumental 18-minute "Space Probe," an outrageously freewheeling Ra solo work recorded on a Moog (or two) around the same time.
The remastered LP and CD editions include liner notes by Moog historian Brian Kehew. Technical notes are provided by jazz historian Ben Young, who restored and remastered the album with his Triple Point Records partner Joe Lizzi. Both men have been recognized for their production work on HOLY GHOST, the Grammy-nominated Albert Ayler boxed set released on John Fahey’s Revenant Records in 2005.
This edition of My Brother the Wind, Vol. 1, was co-produced by Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive, and Irwin Chusid, for Cosmic Myth Records. Cosmic Myth is a partnership of Chusid, Anderson and Virtual Label Group, working under license from Sun Ra LLC, comprised of the heirs and rights holders of Sun Ra's music. CMR releases will primarily use source tapes from Anderson's archive, the world's foremost collection of original Ra session masters. The series is being co-produced and supervised by Chusid (Raymond Scott, Esquivel, Langley School Music Project, Songs in the Key of Z, WFMU). The first CMR release was a remastered, full stereo edition of the 1965 recording The Magic City, considered one of Sun Ra's historically transitional albums.
Sun Ra Meets Two Moogs — the instrument and its namesake inventor
"Some musicians may fear the synthesizer. It is awesome even in its primary development; but this is a bold, aggressive age, pioneering in a sense beyond known frontiers." — Sun Ra, 1970
THUNDER OF THE GODS
SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA
MODERN HARMONIC LP MH-8021 / CD MHCD-021 — LP / CD / DIGITAL RELEASE
This newly discovered session features a new version of Ra’s earlier ‘Island In The Sun’, a romping, raucous rendition of ‘Unmask The Batman’ and the first studio recording of ‘I’ll Wait For You’ There is no bass player on the sessions and Ra’s left hand beats out a rhythmic bass pattern on the piano. All tracks are remastered directly from the original tapes. The album package features a newly commissioned painting by legendary Bristol urban artist Guy Denning and new sleeve notes by Paul Griffiths.
Recently discovered in the Sun Ra archive, the recording forms part of a series of sessions that Ra and the Arkestra recorded for WXPN-FM between 1974 and 1980. The ‘Antique Blacks’ album was recorded there in ’74. Based on the campus of The University of Pennsylvania, WXPN’s station manager Jules Epstein and music director Russ Woessner were instrumental in the exposure and recording of The Arkestra in their broadcast production studios. Geno Barnhart, founder of The Empty Foxhole concert collective, Jules and Russ broadcast an on-going series of jazz concerts covering a wide spectrum. The Arkestra performed at The Foxhole in Philly many times from 1974.
OF ABSTRACT DREAMS
SUN RA & HIS OUTER SPACE ARKESTRA (1974)
STRUT CD 166 — LP / CD / DIGITAL RELEASE
Modern Harmonic has unearthed three previously unreleased Sun Ra recordings and will present them as a new album, titled Thunder Of The Gods.
Lead track ‘Calling Planet Earth – We’ll Wait For You’ was discovered on tapes from Ra’s Universe In Blue, believed to be recorded in ‘71. Meanwhile, the title track and ‘Moonshots Across the Sky’ are lifted from the ‘66 Strange Strings sessions.
“That this music survived to reach our ears after all of this time is quite a miraculous gift,” says Sun Ra-phile Christopher Eddy. “It sounds as though it could have come from either the ancient past or the distant future, yet most perfectly, it’s the music of right now.”
SUN RA & HIS ASTRO-INFINITY ARKESTRA (1968-69)
ROARATORIO LP 45 — LP / CD / DIGITAL RELEASE
Roaratorio’s survey of the unheard Sun Ra continues with Sun Embassy. Consisting of recordings from Sun Studios (aka Ra’s house in Philadelphia) from 1968-1969, the album features nine tracks : six compositions which have never been heard before in any form, plus fresh coats of paint on such 1950s classics as “Sunology” and “Ancient Aiethiopia,” and an early rendition of “Why Go To The Moon?”. Essential listening for Sun Ra devotees.