CD Reviews

MusicWeb International

Webmaster: Len Mullenger

Reviewers: Tony Augarde, Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

[ Jazz index ] [Nostalgia index]  [ Classical MusicWeb ] [ Gerard Hoffnung ]

AmazonUK   AmazonUS






The Mystery of Two (5:47)

Interstellar Low-Ways (4:45)

Neo-Project #2 (5:15)

Cosmos (2:50)

Moonship Journey (6:30)

Journey Among The Stars (5:50)

Jazz From An Unknown Planet (8:10)


Sun Ra- Rocksichord

John Gilmore- Tenor saxophone

Marshall Allen- Alto sax, flute

Danny Davis- Alto sax, flute

Danny Thompson- Baritone sax, flute

Elo Omoe- Bass clarinet, flute

Jac Jackson- Bassoon, flute

Ahmed Abdullah- Trumpet

Vincent Chancey- French horn

Craig Harris- Trombone

R. Anthony Bunn- Electric bass

Larry Bright- Drums



Sun Ra was a remarkable keyboardist and musical visionary, as well as composer, bandleader, innovator, poet, philosopher, mystic, and self-proclaimed star traveler and angel. He was born Herman Sonny Blount in 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama and was a talented piano player as a child. He led his own band called the Sonny Blount Orchestra during the 1930’s, and made his recording debut in Chicago in 1946 playing piano for blues singer Wynonie Harris. He also played piano and arranged music for big-band leader Fletcher Henderson. During his youth he had a vision about encountering aliens and visiting Saturn, where he was taught philosophy and the nature of the universe. This vision caused him to change his name in 1952 to Le Sony’r Ra. Sun Ra became his stage name. He formed his band the Arkestra in the 1950’s and had his own record company, El Saturn Records. Sun Ra was an early pioneer incorporating electronic keyboards and synthesizers into jazz, and he recorded over 100 albums and composed over 1000 songs. His musical style was a blend of many forms: bebop, experimental, free improvisation, modal jazz, eclectic, avant-garde, space music, and cosmic jazz. His band members usually doubled on various instruments, and their performances were highly theatrical, often wearing ancient Egyptians costumes or space suits during performances. Cosmos was recorded in France and first issued in 1976 on the Cobra record label.

The Mystery of Two is a hard-driving number led by Marshall Allen on alto sax and Vincent Chancey playing French horn in a tight and fast arrangement. Interstellar Low-Ways is a dreamy tune featuring Sun Ra performing on the rocksichord, an electronic keyboard created to sound like a harpsichord. The simple melody combines with the instrument’s strange sound to provide an ethereal effect. Neo-Project #2 is a tension-building number built on a four-measure riff, led by the rocksichord and drummer Larry Bright, with fills added by John Gilmore on tenor sax and trombonist Craig Harris. Jazz From An Unknown Planet is a slower tune that follows a similar pattern, with solos by Sun Ra and alto saxophonist Danny Davis. The title track Cosmos is a chaotic free-bebop scramble, with the saxophones and trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah leading the charge. Moonship Journey is a fun, bouncy tune led by Sun Ra’s rocksichord, a fine bass solo by R. Anthony Bunn and the band chanting “Have yourself a Moonship Journey”. The band would often march off after live performances chanting in similar fashions.

A 4-page leaflet is included with the disc, with liner notes by Eric Kriss from the album’s original release. The sound quality is good. This is a fine album from the career of one of jazz’s most creative talents.

Bruce McCollum

Return to Index

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: