Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sun Ra: The Complete "Heliocentric Worlds" in a New Box Set

Heliocentric Worlds was a breakthrough project for Sun Ra and his big-band Arkestra. Recorded in two session in 1965, it was the first chance to hear an extended foray into a-thematic free improvisation-composition-conduction by the band and constitutes a milestone in the avant garde jazz of the period. Two volumes were released back then; an additional third volume surfaced much later. And now all three volumes are available as a box set (ESP 4062).

The band goes through a spectrum of moods, densities and ensemble textures. The constantly shifting combinations of players and modes of attack reflect Sun Ra's careful concern with a freedom that has a conversational logic.

This was extraordinarily advanced music for the time it was made. It's a prime example of just how pioneering Sun Ra's music was, and IS. The box set includes a 20 minute documentary made around that time, which is certainly of interest, and some other nice extras. No doubt the new box is the best way to experience the full impact of Heliocentric Worlds. It's a must for those seeking to measure Sun Ra's importance, and for any student of the rise of the "new thing." It's also very provocative listening!

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