Sun Ra And His Arkestra - Featuring Pharoah Sanders / Black Harold
(Superior Viaduct)

Sun Ra records were not known to say "featuring so-and-so or whoever" on the albums. If anything you'd get a special nod to John Gilmore, the Arkestra's leading tenor sax player. This recently reissued live album names not one, but two artists not normally associated with the Arkestra. The most notable being the impeccable Pharaoh Sanders. An artist who had just gotten his start in the free jazz scene at the time of this recording (1964), and far from his now legendary status. This being the case, his powerful and emotive style was far from perfect. It's loud and plenty squawky, the serrated tone is instantly recognizable, but the more melodic and lyrical side to his playing has not yet been mastered. He only really shines through on the solos, when that sort of technique is most accepted. The album opens strong with the stuttering and slamming piano hits of "Gods On A Safari", which segues into a very slow, intimate bowed bass solo before all hell breaks loose and the band goes flying! The more exotic and sultry parts of the show are handled very well by flutist/percussionist Black Harold, who along with the other drummers in the band, supply some very tripped-out and psychedelic landscapes. It's a quality Sun Ra record, perfectly morphing the bombastic and explosive with tunefulness and craft. (VII)
Check out a track here.