This was another of our Orange Monkey purchases this past weekend.
Recorded in 1963, but not released until 1967 on Sun Ra’s own Saturn label (originally released in a sleeve with only a Sun Ra doodle, this better known cover, designed by Richard Pedreguera who also designed ‘The Nubians of Plutonia‘ cover , was in place by 1969), this particular record has become one of the most discussed of Ra’s New York recordings.
Here’s a pretty accurate synopsis of the album:
“‘Cosmic Tones’ functions as a kind of blueprint for the sort of large-scale jazz weirdness that would inform much of Sun-Ra’s subsequent works, featuring the woozy reeds of ‘And Otherness’ and the afro-jazz experiments of ‘Thither And Yon’. On ‘Adventure Equation’ a space echo treatment on the recording which is reprised for the sax flurries on ‘Voice Of Space’ making the whole experience even more disorientating than it already would be.”
Ra plays “astro space organ,” and the array of swirling tones, funky licks and smashing rhythms, aided and abetted by John Gilmore on bass clarinet, Marshall Allen on oboe, and arrangements that sometimes had multiple horns dueling in the upper register and other times pivoting off careening beats, outraged those in the jazz community who thought Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane had already taken things too far.
It’s beyond fucked up and it’s awesome.
I’m not likely going to be playing this with the girls around but while planking (my second successful 5-minute plank I might add) on my mat in my basement office, it’s an ideal listening experience.