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Beyond the Purple Star Zone

by Sun Ra & His Omniverse Jet-Set Arkestra

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From The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (2nd ed.), by Robert Campbell and Christopher Trent, we offer this preface:

"The Arkestra was 'in residency' at the Jazz Center in Detroit for nearly a week (a poster in the possession of [drummer] Samarai Celestial advertises 11 shows [from December 26, 1980 to January 1, 1981]). Rick Steiger and John Sinclair produced the events. Paintings from Ra's private collection were on display in the hall; films from his collection were shown, and a slide show called Sun Ra Through the Ages, featuring photography by Leni Sinclair, was presented."

From over 26 hours of music (which included some afternoon workshops) recorded on six dates, material was culled for two LPs released on Ra's own label: Beyond the Purple Star Zone (released 1981), and Oblique Parallax (released 1982). The title track of Beyond the Purple Star Zone and the first section of "Journey Stars Beyond" on Oblique Parallax are the same performance, but with different mixes.

Though nominally credited to Sun Ra's Omniverse Jet-Set Arkestra (a shifting cast of Arkestra mainstays and Detroit-based players), Beyond the Purple Star Zone in fact features the leader performing solo on tracks 3 and 5 (there's a 15-second Samarai Celestial drum intro on 3), while title track 1 offers the trio of Ra on keyboards, Vincent Chancey on French horn, and Celestial on drums. And despite four horn players listed in the personnel, there are few horn parts; other than Chancey on track 1, the others are on track 2 (with sax virtuoso John Gilmore singing), a reinvention of Ra's evergreen "Rocket Number 9."

The audio quality of these recordings is comparable to many captured Sun Ra stage shows: flawed, but soulful; mid-fidelity, but high-octane. We have attempted to remove as much distortion as possible from the horns, voices, and keyboards, but ultimately this noise is part of the documented performance and cannot easily be subtracted by existing technology. File under: "Garage Jazz."

In 2010 the British label Art Yard packaged the contents of both LPs on a commercial CD, which included fascinating reminiscences by Steiger, co-producer of Sun Ra's historic Detroit stand. Other soundboard tapes from the Detroit concerts have circulated among fans over the years, and some have been issued on inferior-quality bootlegs.

Before the first concert, Ra was reportedly given the Key to the City by an aide to Detroit Mayor Coleman Young.

– I.C.


released May 2, 2015

2015, Enterplanetary Koncepts
All tracks produced by Sun Ra

Sun Ra: organ, electronic keyboards, vocal (2)
Vincent Chancey: French horn (1)
Samarai Celestial (Eric Walker): drums (1, 2, 3, 4)
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax (2)
Eloe Omoe: bass clarinet (2)
Jaribu Shahid: bass (2)
unknown: bass (4)
John Gilmore, June Tyson, ensemble: vocal (2)
A. Spencer Barefield: electric guitar (4)
Bright Moments: sleigh bells (2, 4)

Transferred from disc by Timothy Stollenwerk
Digital restoration by Timothy Stollenwerk and Irwin Chusid
Special thanks to Craig Koon

All titles composed by Sun Ra © Enterplanetary Koncepts (BMI)

Issued under license from Sun Ra LLC
Cover design by Irwin Chusid using adapted elements


all rights reserved



Sun Ra New York, New York

A Helpful Guide to the Many Sun Ra Albums on Bandcamp: daily.bandcamp.com/2017/10/13/sun-ra-album-guide
The foremost figure in musical Afro-futurism and space-jazz. Keyboardist, composer, Arkestra leader, arranger, philosopher-jester, fashion icon, cosmic guide. Born Herman Blount in Alabama, 1914, left the planet in 1993, giving Earthlings a monumental catalog of recordings that transcend genre. ... more

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