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Piano Recital: Teatro la Fenice

Sun Ra

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Album Review

You read the title correctly, this is a rare solo piano concert by Sun Ra in front of an appreciative Venetian audience on November 24, 1977. Recorded by whom and for what purpose remains undisclosed. The sound quality is slightly disappointing. The piano is well captured and detailed, but tucked almost all the way into the left stereo channel and the master tape shows its age toward the end of the set. Sun Ra gives a spirited performance, full of invention. His highly personal renditions of standards like "Take the "A" Train" and "St. Louis Blues" provide highlights, but don't top his complete recomposition of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose." The way he stretches the melody and develops the bassline into a tune he could claim as his own is simply remarkable. The set also includes a couple of free improvisations and key Sun Ra compositions such as "Love in Outer Space," "Outer Spaceways Inc.," "Friendly Galaxy," and "Angel Race," on which he is faintly heard singing the chorus. Moody and talkative in his playing, Sun Ra gives a generous performance, the kind you expect from him. Without the Arkestra to urge him forward in his space travels, he takes more time to reminisce and converse. Fans will find this Piano Recital to provide a lovely moment despite its slightly under-par sound quality. Released in a limited edition of 1,500 copies. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

Born: 22 May 1914 in Birmingham, AL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

Of all the jazz musicians, Sun Ra was probably the most controversial. He did not make it easy for people to take him seriously, for he surrounded his adventurous music with costumes and mythology that both looked backward toward ancient Egypt and forward into science fiction. In addition, Ra documented his music in very erratic fashion on his Saturn label, generally not listing recording dates and giving inaccurate personnel information, so one could not really tell how advanced some of his innovations...
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