9 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Released in 1974 in a limited-run LP sold at live shows, Invisible Shield is one of the rarer Sun Ra albums. Mostly recorded in 1961 and 1962 with a final piece from 1970, the nine tracks here have a trajectory that mirrors Sun Ra's career and seemingly the progression of jazz itself. The opening original, “State Street,” is a big band effort long on swing, with tight horn charts and solos propelling it along. The context shifts to small group versions in stereo of standards “Sometimes I’m Happy” (with soulful piano by Sunny), “Time After Time,” “Easy to Love,” and “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” which feature (more or less) tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, trumpeter Walter Miller, and a driving Ronnie Boykins on bass. The band’s version of Gershwin’s “But Not for Me” is previously unreleased but certainly of quality. Things start to shift with the previously unreleased original exotica of “Island in the Sun” with a full horn section returning. Things close with the wild electro-acoustic free jazz title track and the echoey and ambient “Janus.” There's no real reason why this should be so obscure, because it certainly has its moments.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Released in 1974 in a limited-run LP sold at live shows, Invisible Shield is one of the rarer Sun Ra albums. Mostly recorded in 1961 and 1962 with a final piece from 1970, the nine tracks here have a trajectory that mirrors Sun Ra's career and seemingly the progression of jazz itself. The opening original, “State Street,” is a big band effort long on swing, with tight horn charts and solos propelling it along. The context shifts to small group versions in stereo of standards “Sometimes I’m Happy” (with soulful piano by Sunny), “Time After Time,” “Easy to Love,” and “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” which feature (more or less) tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, trumpeter Walter Miller, and a driving Ronnie Boykins on bass. The band’s version of Gershwin’s “But Not for Me” is previously unreleased but certainly of quality. Things start to shift with the previously unreleased original exotica of “Island in the Sun” with a full horn section returning. Things close with the wild electro-acoustic free jazz title track and the echoey and ambient “Janus.” There's no real reason why this should be so obscure, because it certainly has its moments.

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