Sun Ra

Live at Pitt-In, Tokyo

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Bright sounding and energetic, Sun Ra & His Arkestra transcended the damaging effects of the 1980s on jazz by simply doing what they always did: making joyous, cosmos-sweeping music in the self-established tradition of a free big band. The recording captures the band sympathetically, managing to keep the chaos under control through a crisp and deep mix. Though featuring mainstay Arkestra vocalist June Tyson on a number of tracks (including the elegiac "I Wait for You"), the highlights here are the band's sweet takes on shorter charts, such as Ra's swinging "Can You Take It?," Duke Ellington's classic "Prelude to a Kiss," and Jerome Kern's tender "Why I Was Born." Also of note is a gently lurching take on "Astro Black," one of Ra's most enduring melodies. Containing manageable bits of many of the Arkestra's foci, this disc provides a good introduction to Sun Ra's work.

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