Ra to the Rescue

by Sun Ra & His Arkestra

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about

Many albums Sun Ra released on his Saturn label seem to have been programmed in random shuffle; hybrid pressings turn up which couple tracks from unrelated sessions, sometimes in clashing styles, often under new album titles. To the Ra enthusiast, this is not a bug—it's a feature. Each time the band went on tour (which was often), they needed product to sell at concerts. Rather than re-press existing albums, Ra had a penchant for reconstituting the catalog with fresh material, even if it was juxtaposed with previously issued material.

Ra to the Rescue was pressed in limited quantities in 1983, but several of its tracks subsequently were reissued with other tracks on the albums (commonly referred to as) When Spaceships Appear, Cosmo-Party Blues, Somewhere There, and Children of the Sun. Those album "titles" are in many cases simply titles of the first track on a particular side (these were scribbled in pen on otherwise blank labels). To complicate matters, many tracks were retitled for reasons that shall forever remain inscrutable.

The tracks on Ra to the Rescue were recorded at several locations over several years. Some were recorded at New York's Squat Theater, founded by Hungarian political dissidents and based in a cramped storefront at 256 West 23rd Street. Besides music, Squat was known for dramatic productions (from Chekhov to conceptual absurdism), which were staged in the theater's window overlooking the Manhattan sidewalk. From 1979 to 1982 the Arkestra gigged regularly at Squat; an unknown number of performances were recorded, a few released commercially. The Squat archives (at SquatTheatre.com) claim that Ra debuted there in August 1979 and performed on the premises 47 times, "to become our most frequent guest." The chronicle explains that "the fit between the Arkestra and the Squat Theatre was a natural one, as both were in essence creative communes." (Other recordings from Squat can be heard on our digital release Voice of the Eternal Tomorrow.)

The origins of the remaining tracks on Ra to the Rescue are speculative. The Earthling Recordings of Sun Ra (2nd ed.) calls them "odds and ends from various [1984 or 1985] concerts taped by Arkestra members." Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive says they were recorded in 1984 by director Frank Cassenti for his documentary Mystery, Mr. Ra, at two Paris concerts: one at the Paris Jazz Festival, the other at the New Morning club. Many tracks in the documentary are fragments. The two titles included on this album which are heard in the film are different recordings. Anderson says "Mystery, Mr. Ra" was recorded at the festival and intended for release by Sun Ra, but was shelved.

– I.C.

credits

released May 3, 2015

2015, Enterplanetary Koncepts
All tracks produced by Sun Ra

PERSONNEL:
Track 1: SUN RA (vocal); JUNE TYSON (vocal); JOHN GILMORE & MARSHALL ALLEN (saxes); other musicians unknown

Tracks 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10: SUN RA (piano, synth [solo 2], vocal [8, 9]); MARSHALL ALLEN (alto sax, flute, percussion); JOHN GILMORE (tenor sax, percussion, vocal); DANNY RAY THOMPSON (baritone sax, flute, bongos); HAYES BURNETT (bass); JUNE TYSON (vocal [8, 9]); SAMARAI CELESTIAL [ERIC WALKER] (drums); MICHAEL D. ANDERSON (drums); EDDIE THOMAS (percussion); ATAKATUNE (congas); OTHERS (vocals, percussion)

Tracks 4, 5, 6: SUN RA (piano, vocals [5]); JUNE TYSON (vocal [5]); JOHN GILMORE (tenor sax); MARSHALL ALLEN (alto, clarinet, oboe, flute, kora); ELOE OMOE (alto, bass clarinet, contra alto, clarinet & flute); JAMES JACSON (Ihnfinity drum [4], bassoon & flute); TYRONE HILL (trombone); RONNIE BROWN (trumpet); DANNY RAY THOMPSON (baritone sax, alto, flute, bongos); ROLLO RADFORD (electric and upright bass); MATTHEW BROWN (congas); DON MUMFORD (drums)

Tape transfers by Michael D. Anderson of the Sun Ra Music Archive
Digital restoration by Michael D. Anderson and Irwin Chusid

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

Issued under license from Sun Ra LLC

Cover design by Irwin Chusid

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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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