Sun Ra

Live in Paris at the Gibus

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Sun Ra (organ/electric vibraphone/space instruments/synthesizer/vocals) and his Intergalactic Space Research Arkestra are captured live in October of 1973 on this essential disc. Not only are the sides uniformly inspired, but the track list bears a few interesting diversions, including seminal examples of Ra as both a performer and unequaled arranger. The mid-tempo dreamy and languid opener, "Spontaneous Simplicity," evolves around Ra's sublime organ and electric vibe runs. He places those against an unforced and otherwise limber wash of hand percussion as well as the understated yet solid pulse of Ronnie Boykins' bass. Ra's emphatic electric organ inflections herald the introduction to what is arguably the most haunting and poignant reading of "Lights on a Satellite" readily available. The flute section -- featuring Marshall Allen (alto sax/oboe/flute/piccolo), Danny Davis (alto sax/flute/alto clarinet), Danny Ray Thompson (baritone sax/flute), James Jacson (bassoon/flute/percussion), and Eloe Omoe (bass clarinet/flute) -- reel an edgy and trance-inducing melody into their sinuous lines. The entire affair simmers just below some glistens from Ra and a sax solo by John Gilmore (tenor sax/percussion). "Ombre Monde" (aka "Shadow World") dates back to the mid-'60s and allows Allen a platform for an extended lead that is sonically spurred on by Ra's motivated electric piano. Akh Tal Ebah's trumpet aggressions also make this version stand out. The truly phenomenal cover of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" is a progressive score that builds on work done by Fletcher Henderson's definitive version. The Arkestra's compact presentation is stunning and Ra's complex score makes this flawless rendering all the more improbable. The bandleader offers up a vocal cosmic greeting on "Salutations From the Universe" which is swirled in an onslaught from the full ensemble. Ra's forceful keyboards are countered by some sharp and incisive contributions from the Arkestra. This segues into the benedictory "Calling Planet Earth" chant that is free jazz madness at its most effective. June Tyson's (vocals) voice can be picked out among the participants before Ra's brief solo conclusion. Although initially only pressed as a hard-to-find French import, Live in Paris at the Gibus was issued on CD in 2003 and is a highly recommended title for inclined parties.

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