Featuring what may be his only recordings on the Prophet keyboard, these once lost performances expand the omniverse of Sun Ra across a stellar set of lengthy cuts. These works were recorded in a single day and are making their terrestrial debut.
What happens when a Prophet meets a Prophet? The answer lies within these grooves.
Amid the hundreds of recordings issued by Sun Ra and his Arkestra under their various guises, the majority were recorded in concert or in makeshift studios, such as their early 1960s set-up at NYC's Choreographer's Workshop. Beyond those, roughly 22 albums were recorded professionally at Variety Recording Studio in New York's Times Square. However, on August 25, 1986, Ra and cohorts entered Mission Control, a state-of-the-art 24-track studio north of Boston, which was teeming with electronic keyboards and otherworldly sound generators. Nestled within that arsenal was a brand-new digital ultra keyboard — the Prophet VS ("Vector Synthesizer").
Of all the keyboards Ra played throughout his half-century career, the Prophet was one of the most sophisticated. There's no evidence that he had played either of the instrument's earlier incarnations, the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 and Prophet-10. Created using microprocessors, a then-new technological advance, under the auspices of engineer Dave Smith in 1978, the Prophet-5 revolutionized electronic music as the first polyphonic and, most importantly, programmable synthesizer. Ra was intrigued by the Prophet (surely by the instrument as well as by the name), and gave the instrument a solid workout prior to a full Arkestra recording session later that day.
These performances originated from previously unreleased 1986 tapes recorded by preserved by Bill Sebastian as part of his Outer Space Visual Communicator (OVC) project. Irwin Chusid discovered the existence of the tapes and arranged thru Sebastian to have them digitally transferred and mixed by myself and our buddy Sean Slade.
It was a joy and a thrill to be sitting at the console hearing this music for the first time, especially with my fingers on the faders and knobs of the mixing desk. We watched the oxide fly off the 2" tapes during playback, making this our one chance to digitize before they disintegrated into dust. Welcome to the new Sun Ra album …. 35+ years after it was recorded. The Omniverse has expanded once again.
— Brother Cleve (1955 - 2022)
NOTE: This album is also available on LP and CD from Modern Harmonic.
Sun Ra: Prophet VS synthesizer, piano, vocals
Marshall Allen: alto sax, percussion
John Gilmore: tenor sax, percussion
Danny Ray Thompson: baritone sax, percussion
Eloe Omoe: bass clarinet, percussion
Al Evans: flugelhorn
Fred Adams: trumpet
Tyrone Hill: trombone
Bruce Edwards: electric guitar
John Ore: bass
James Jacson: Ancient Egyptian Infinity Lightning with Thunder Drum, bassoon
John Brown: drums
Atakatune: conga, percussion
June Tyson: vocals
Original sessions produced by Sun Ra and Bill Sebastian
Session recording engineer: Sidney Burton
Assistant engineer: Kent Wagner
Recorded at Mission Control Studios, Westford, Massachusetts
August 25, 1986
Original master tapes transferred by Joe Pires and David Minehan
Woolly Mammoth Studios, Waltham, Massachusetts
May 17, 2016
Mixed by Sean Slade and Brother Cleve
Woolly Mammoth Studios
Engineer: David Minehan
Irwin Chusid: Executive Producer
Master rights: Sun Ra LLC
Thanks to Bill Sebastian, Thomas Jenkins, Jr., and Jay Millar/Modern Harmonic
A Helpful Guide to the Many Sun Ra Albums on Bandcamp: daily.bandcamp.com/2017/10/13/sun-ra-album-guide
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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