Sun Ra: Egypt1971

Rating: ★★★★

Record and Artist Details

Musicians:

Sun Ra (org, syn, Rockichord, p)

Label:

Strut/Art Yard

October/2020

Media Format:

5 LP

Catalogue Number:

STRUT2001LPB

RecordDate:

1971

I In 1970 Sun Ra and his Arkestra took off from their American I base for their first European tour, a journey that saw them playing dates in France, Germany and the UK. The tour's success was reason enough for a second excursion the following year that extended to Denmark, and finally Cairo, Egypt where the bulk of the music presented here was recorded. For Sun Ra performing in Egypt with its temples, tombs, pyramids and exotic gods was an intensely personal and spiritual experience that would later become the launch pad for his next creative mission into the unknown. The five LPs that form this impressive box set are made up from re-mastered versions of Dark Myth Equation/Visitation/Nature's God, Nidhamu and Horizon (the original El Saturn/Thoth Intergalactic releases), together with two bonus LPs of previously unreleased material of the same period from the archives of Sun Ra collector and scholar Hartmut Geerken.

The first three accurately reprint the original cover and label art, while the extra LPs are emblazoned with examples of Geerken's hallucinatory live black-and-white photography – this spills on to the box lid and fills the accompanying book.

On the three reissued recordings the group present an ever-shifting showcase of cosmic jazz music that moves through refracted Ellingtonian big band arrangements, displays of flaring free jazz and stunning segues into avant garde and electronic music, as Ra fires up his Moog synthesizer and prepares for take off. The sounds that emit from his instrument are akin to that of a jet engine, a ferocious roar of rocket fuelled abstract jazz that amplifies the frantic horn playing of John Gilmore, Pat Patrick and Marshall Allen. Tempering this white-hot activity is the commanding vocal of June Tyson, the bearer of Ra's message to Planet Earth who teams up with Gilmore for ‘To Nature's God’. For those Sun Ra admirers who are familiar with the original trilogy, the main reason to acquire this box is for In Heliopis and Egytian Oasis, the two albums of unreleased recordings that fully flesh out Ra's extraordinary Egyptian adventure – with scorching performances of ‘Next Stop Mars’, ‘Angels And Demons At Play’ and a simmering organ solo from Ra being just a few of the highlights. Taken as a whole and this complete version of the Egypt 71 recordings stands alongside The Magic City and Disco 3000 as one of Sun Ra's major works – and one that would lead him to other worlds of inner discovery in the future.

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