"Compiled and annotated by music journalist and long-time devotee Kris Needs, A Space Odyssey charts the early days of Sun Ra's voyage, from swing to the solar system, starting with his first composition in 1933. This painstakingly-compiled labour-of-love tribute is intended to reflect Sun Ra's journey from leaving the Jim Crow oppression of his Birmingham, Alabama birth-place, through his first Chicago recordings then on to New York City, where his unique musical visions could flourish and take off. CD1 (Pre-flight) features Sun Ra's earliest recordings from the 1940s, playing piano for Wynonie Harris and Lil Green, jamming with Stuff Smith, and coaching or arranging for artists such as Andrew Tibbs, the Hambone Kids and the Dozier Boys with Red Saunders' Orchestra. Other artists he worked with featured here include pianist Dorothy Donegan, Joe Williams, Jo Jo Adams and LaVern Baker. There's also an intriguing brace of tracks displaying his experiments with mid-1950s vocal groups such as Nu Sounds and Cosmic Rays, while introducing berserk space-preacher Yochanan. All along, Ra was blueprinting his sonic spaceship until the time was right to launch under his own name in mid-1956 with effervescent debut single, 'Saturn', on his newly-established label of the same name. Saturn is also the planet he claimed to be his birth-place. CD1 ends with the first 1956 Arkestra sessions, picked up again on CD2 (Lift-off), which runs through early Saturn singles such as 'A Call For All Demons', then tracks from Sun Ra's early albums Jazz By Sun Ra, Sound of Joy, Visits Planet Earth and Super-Sonic Jazz, his sound tangibly expanding through the stunning Arkestral manoeuvres of tracks such as 'Sunology'. CD3 (Future Shock) mixes tracks from Sun Ra's twin landmark albums Jazz In Silhouette and The Futuristic Sounds Of Sun Ra, with intoxicating one-off singles such as 'Great Balls Of Fire', 'Space Loneliness' and 'Big City Blues', the massively weird 'Teenager's Letter Of Promises' with singer Juanita Rogers, before signing off with Yochanan's demented 'Message To Earthman'." (label info) in digipack, with booklet
in stock | UK| 2013| FANTASTIC VOYAGE | 16.90

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