Sun Ra

Fondation Maeght Nights, Vol. 2

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Although the music is unquestionably worth seeking, Fondation Maeght Nights (1986) is not an optimal way to hear it. However, interested parties are encouraged to locate the respective installments of the similarly titled Nuits de la Fondation Maeght (2003), which is available on CD. Sun Ra and the Arkestra are captured during their August 3, 1970, set at Saint Paul de Vence in Côte d'Azur, France. This was the combo's first European excursion and they certainly rise to the occasion, giving one of the strongest documents of the Arkestra during this era. "Friendly Galaxy" (aka "Friendly Galaxy Number 2") seethes below an undulating rhythm that is held in check amidst brooding and wailing outbursts from Alan Silva (violin). Silva likewise provides the sublime and steady electric bass guitar line that girds the full ensemble on a limber and joyous "Spontaneous Simplicity." The introductory theme prominently showcases the brass and woodwind sections and is bookended by the sinuous and remarkably melodic assertions from Ra on electric piano. In a stylistic 180-degree turn, "The World of the Lightening" commences some of the decidedly farther-out selections. Ra's miniMoog slashes through the equally profound and incendiary blows from Marshall Allen (sax), eventually landing into an all-out sonic assault from the Arkestra. June Tyson (vocals) opens up a deeply resonate "Black Myth" with a pair of recitations in the form of "The Shadows Took Shape" and "The Strange World." These are juxtaposed with direct and aggressive Moog interjections from Ra during the final movement, "Journey Through the Outer Darkness." "Sky" is a brief concluding solo from Allen on an instrument called the hautbois -- a Russian predecessor to the oboe. Whether by design or fluke, the song concludes abruptly, seemingly in mid-thought. Once again it is worth mentioning that while this specific disc lacks considerably from the standpoint of acceptable fidelity, enthusiasts should direct their respective attentions to Nuits de la Fondation Maeght, Vol. 2 (2003) on Comet Records.

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