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Music From Tomorrow's World

Sun Ra Arkestra

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Album Review

Music From Tomorrow's World is a fascinating document and a boon to Sun Ra collectors. It gathers previously unheard tapes from two sources: one from the Wonder Inn club and one from Majestic Hall, probably a rehearsal. Both were recorded in 1960, toward the end of the Arkestra's Chicago period. The Wonder Inn tape is especially revealing, as it presents the Arkestra in front of a crowd. And although Saturn album releases from the period feature Ra compositions almost exclusively, this set shows they played standards as well during their live shows. The sound is surprisingly good, although one wishes the woman near the tape recorder would shut up once in a while. (Her comments range from "You gonna take me to eat?" to "Play it, Sun Ray! Play it like you want!") The first two tunes feature flutes heavily, then John Gilmore takes over the show starting with "Space Aura." Ricky Murray croons up a storm on the Gershwin standard "S Wonderful," with great Arkestra backing vocals on both Gershwin tunes. Ra's arrangement of "It Ain't Necessarily So" is quite interesting, and his arrangement of "China Gate" was clearly the inspiration for his own "Overtones of China" on the album Visits Planet Earth. The sound on the Majestic Hall session is not nearly as good, but the music surely is. This set has the Arkestra concentrating on original compositions, except for Harry Revel's "Possession" (another composer fascinated by space in the '50s). Gilmore is, again, in fine form, and there is the added bonus of four tracks that have not been otherwise recorded or identified. Music From Tomorrow's World is a fantastic document that casts some new light on an important period of the Arkestra's career. This was when it all came together for this one-of-a-kind band: the music, the costumes, the cosmology, and overall presentation. Shortly after, the Arkestra would leave Chicago for good. The Delmark albums and Evidence reissues of Saturn albums from the period would be the first stopping place for the Sun Ra novice, but Music From Tomorrow's World is highly recommended for fans of this important early portion of the Arkestra's history.

Music From Tomorrow's World, Sun Ra Arkestra
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