Sun Ra - The Magic City
Some great news is now upon us from the world of Sun Ra. Cosmic Myth Recordings has been formed to issue official recordings from the estate of Sun Ra. We can now expect to hear high quality, master-tape recordings of some of Sun Ra’s finest works. This new project is being helmed by longtime music historian Irwin Chusid and Michael D. Anderson, who oversees the Sun Ra Music archive which comprises the foremost collection of original masters. The first release in this series is the first proper stereo release of the 1965 LP, The Magic City; what many jazz scholars consider to be a definitive recording.
The Magic City was recorded in New York City, just a few short years before Ra and Co. would decamp to Philadelphia. The album title though, was inspired by the nickname of his hometown, Birmingham, Alabama which was spelled out on a large billboard he likely gazed at growing up in the 1920’s. Taking up the entirety of Side A is the title track. It begins somewhat ominously with Ra subtly working with clavioline and piano with individual soloists such as Danny Davis (flute), Marshall Allen (alto) and John Gilmore (tenor) take turns blowing the roof off. It’s truly one of the defining passages in the recorded history of Sun Ra and his Arkestra. Side B was recorded live at Olatunji’s loft in 1965 and it nicely complements the rehearsal recording on Side A. “The Shadow World” shows Ra working with timpani, harp and drums as Allen, Gilmore and Pat Patrick play the melody in unison before spinning off into their own stratospheres. And “Abstract I” ebbs and flows with odd percussive touches in between Robert Cummings’ bass clarinet blasts and Chris Capers' trumpet swipes.
All told, it’s a vibrant, psychedelic and breathtaking record to bear witness to. This new definitive reissue corrects the flawed stereo mix issued by Sun Ra’s subsidiary Thoth, and bests the 1973 Impulse reissue that had reprocessed stereo. Also includes technical and historical liner notes by jazz historian Ben Young. Beautiful work with hopefully more to come (Dom)
Check out a track here.