Piano Recital (Teatro La Fenice in Venice)

Sun Ra

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Piano Recital (Teatro La Fenice in Venice) Review

by Fran├žois Couture

You read the title correctly, this is a rare solo piano concert by Sun Ra in front of an appreciative Venetian audience on November 24, 1977. Recorded by whom and for what purpose remains undisclosed. The sound quality is slightly disappointing. The piano is well captured and detailed, but tucked almost all the way into the left stereo channel and the master tape shows its age toward the end of the set. Sun Ra gives a spirited performance, full of invention. His highly personal renditions of standards like "Take the "A" Train" and "St. Louis Blues" provide highlights, but don't top his complete recomposition of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose." The way he stretches the melody and develops the bassline into a tune he could claim as his own is simply remarkable. The set also includes a couple of free improvisations and key Sun Ra compositions such as "Love in Outer Space," "Outer Spaceways Inc.," "Friendly Galaxy," and "Angel Race," on which he is faintly heard singing the chorus. Moody and talkative in his playing, Sun Ra gives a generous performance, the kind you expect from him. Without the Arkestra to urge him forward in his space travels, he takes more time to reminisce and converse. Fans will find this Piano Recital to provide a lovely moment despite its slightly under-par sound quality. Released in a limited edition of 1,500 copies.

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