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Celestial Love

by Sun Ra & His Arkestra

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Smile 04:23


NOTE: Celestial Love, first issued digitally by us in 2015, was licensed to the Modern Harmonic label and remastered in 2020. Both versions contain identical titles. The remastered version is available on CD and LP (and digitally) from MH. Our Bandcamp release has been updated with the remastered audio.


Celestial Love contains recordings made in September 1982 at New York's Variety Studios, which had hosted countless Sun Ra sessions since the late 1960s. This was one of the last extended sessions at Variety, and these recordings were the last studio works released on Sun Ra's own Saturn label (though the label did continue to press concert recordings, and new studio recordings did appear on other labels). Aside from their inclusion on Celestial Love, tracks from these sessions landed on the albums A Fireside Chat With Lucifer and Nuclear War. Since Nuclear War's contents overlapped with both Fireside Chat and Celestial Love, we have reconstituted the latter two as complete albums, thus covering all titles from these Variety dates.

The music on Celestial Love is mostly "inside" Ra, veering towards mainstream jazz (the lengthy and adventurous "Fireside Chat," not on this album, being an exception). Ra's early hero, Duke Ellington, is represented twice with "Sophisticated Lady" and "Drop Me Off in Harlem," and two other standards ("Smile" and "Sometimes I'm Happy," both sung by June Tyson) are given snappy Ra arrangements.

The album contains the only known recordings of "Celestial Love" and "Blue Intensity." "Interstellarism" is a reinvention of "Interstellar Low Ways," a composition Ra first recorded in 1959 (with reed stalwarts John Gilmore and Marshall Allen, who are on this version 23 years later). "Nameless One #2," a blues workout, is reprised on "Nameless One #3." ("Nameless One #1" has apparently not been written, but could yet arrive from a distant galaxy.)

Though Sun Ra was renowned for outrageous music and performances, Celestial Love is a reminder that he was a man of many moods, with a deep respect for jazz history. His embrace of Futurism never implied a rejection of the past. Even rocket ships were constructed with raw materials discovered eons ago.

– I.C.


released January 5, 2015

All tracks produced by Sun Ra

Sun Ra: piano, synthesizer, organ
June Tyson: vocals (2, 7)
Tyrone Hill: trombone
Walter Miller: trumpet
Vincent Chancey: French horn
John Gilmore: tenor sax
Marshall Allen: alto sax, flute
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax, flute
James Jacson: bassoon, infinity drum
Hayes Burnett or John Ore: bass
Samarai Celestial: drums
Atakatune: percussion

Tape transfers by Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive
Digital restoration by Michael D. Anderson and Irwin Chusid
Remastered by Joe Lizzi in 2020 for Modern Harmonic
Special thanks to John Sudduth, Peter Dennett, Christopher Eddy, Robert Campbell, Christopher Trent

All tracks composed by Sun Ra © Enterplanetary Koncepts (BMI)
"Sometimes I'm Happy" (Caesar-Youmans-Grey)
"Sophisticated Lady" (Ellington-Mills-Parish)
"Smile" (Chaplin-Parsons-Phillips)
"Drop Me Off in Harlem" (Ellington-Kenny)

Issued under license from Sun Ra LLC

Cover illustration adapted from a Saturn LP sticker; design by I.C.


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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