Sun Ra & His Solar Myth Arkestra / Sun Ra

Secrets of the Sun

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Secrets of the Sun consists of sessions recorded by drummer Tommy "Bugs" Hunter in 1962 at the Choreographer's Workshop in New York City, the Arkestra's regular rehearsal studio. Since they had only recently moved to New York (some decided to stay in Chicago), these are small-group Arkestra recordings. This is an interesting transitional album because you can still hear echoes of the Chicago sound in some of the pieces, but the sound is growing beyond merely "exotic," with percussion playing an increasingly larger role and the pieces starting to sound more amorphous. "The Friendly Galaxy" has the same sort of mysterious vibe as "Ancient Aetheopia," with nice trumpet and piano work as well as John Gilmore on bass clarinet (which he plays on a couple cuts). "Solar Differentials" has a similar but weirder feel because the horns change to "Space Bird Sounds" and Art Jenkins adds some of his distinctive "Space Voice." "Space Aura" is built on a great horn riff, while both Gilmore (again on bass clarinet) and Sun Ra both shine on a stripped-down version of "Love in Outer Space." Things head a bit more out for the last couple tracks, where percussion and reverb start to dominate the sound, as they would on several of the Choreographer Workshop recordings. This is an interesting album for Ra fans because it's such a small band and shows how new ideas were taking hold in the music, not to mention Gilmore's use of bass clarinet, which he stopped playing completely sometime in the '60s. [In 2008, Secrets of the Sun was reissued by Atavistic with an unreleased 17 minute bonus track.]

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