A terrific document: the highly eccentric, controversial pianist performs standards under the most informal circumstances. "Can This Be Love?" was recorded in Ra's Chicago apartment in 1955; he is accompanied only by the great Wilbur Ware on bass. The other five tracks, which feature, among others, Ra's longtime associate John Gilmore on tenor saxophone, were recorded at the Choreographer's Workshop rehearsal space in 1962 and 1963. The recording quality is more than passable, and the music is swinging from beginning to end. "Time After Time," "Easy to Love," and "But Not for Me" are all played faster than usual.
Those who dismiss Ra's original music will need to digest these recordings, which clearly demonstrate Ra's (and Gilmore's) grounding in the tradition. Admittedly, however, Ra is a bit all over the map during his solo on "But Not for Me." Some added pluses: attractive packaging and thorough, accurate personnel listings, as well as informative liner notes by Robert L. Campbell.