Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sun Ra and his Myth Science Arkestra - 1956-1967 - Angels and Demons at Play/The Nubians of Plutonia

""Angels and Demons" is a short 8-song collection (more an "EP" than an "LP") that shows Ra's Chicago-era Arkestra doing some of their best work, moving from colorful big-band music (tracks 5-8) to more idiosynchratic music that reflected Ra's belief is cosmology (tracks 1-4). "Nubians" is a heavily percussive LP that influenced Coltrane among others. The recording quality on it varies from good to so-so. There are some wonderful compositions on it and many lengthy moments of drum-fueled ambience - "global trance" - that sound contemporary today, and were extraordinary for the late 1950's." ~ Amazon

The fallowing album info is taken from Saturn Research

Angels and Demons at Play
Saturn SR 9956-2-0/P (between 1963 and 1967)
Saturn LP 407
Impulse AS 9245 (1974)
Evidence (CD, due fall 1993)

Side A: Tiny Pyramids (Ronald Boykins)
Phil Cohran-muted tp; Nate Pryor-muted tb; Marshall Allen-fl; John Gilmore-cl; Ra-p; Ronnie Boykins-b; Jon Hardy-d with mallets; other Arkestrans, perc. Hall Recording Co., Chicago, late 1960.

Phil Cohran says that he is playing on this piece and identified the venue.

Between Two Worlds (Ra)
Bo Bailey-tb; John Gilmore-ts; Marshall Allen-as; Ra-p; Boykins-b (arco all the way); Robert Barry or Jon Hardy-d with mallets; unidentified-wood blocks. Chicago, probably 1960.

The trombonist is a fluent bop player. Cohran was not present when this was made but agrees that it is not Nate Pryor. Since Julian Priester wasn't around, it might be his teacher, Bo Bailey.

Music from the World Tomorrow (Ra)
Ra-org; Ronnie Boykins-b (arco again); Phil Cohran-zither; Jon Hardy- d. Rehersal, Chicago, 1960.

Same sonorities as Interplanetary Music on We Travel the Spaceways, but without the vocal. Same organ, too; I'm not sure what it is, but it definitely ain't a Hammond. Gilmore says it's Phil Cohran on zither; Cohran says it was also called a violin/uke because you could bow it and pluck it, and that he bought it on 1/22/60. Cohran's "space harp" was an African thumb piano he built (not used on any of the Saturns). Sound is not good enough for it to be a studio recording.

Angels and Demons at Play (Ronald Boykins)
Marshall Allen-fl; Phil Cohran-zither; Ronnie Boykins-b; unidentified-wood blocks (indeterminate pops, as on It's Chrismastime); John Gilmore- solar bells.

If Ra is playing on this, he's contributing in the percussion department. Saturn attributes this piece to Ra; Gilmore says it was written by Boykins. Cohran says it was recorded at Hall Recording Co. late in 1960.

Side B: Urnack (Julian Priester)
Art Hoyle-tp; Julian Priester-tb; John Gilmore-ts; Pat Patrick-bs; Charles Davis-bs (solo); Ra-p; Wilburn Green-eb; Robert Barry-d.

Medicine for a Nightmare(Ra)
Art Hoyle-tp; Julian Priester-tb; John Gilmore-ts; Pat Patrick-bs (solo); Charles Davis-bs; Ra-p, Wurlitzer ep; Wilburn Green-eb; Robert Barry-d; Jim Herndon-tympani.

A Call for All Demons (Ra)
Art Hoyle-tp; Julian Priester-tb; John Gilmore-ts; Pat Patrick-bs; Ra-p, Wurlitzer ep; Wilburn Green-eb; Robert Barry-d; Jim Herndon-tympani.

Demon's Lullaby (Ra)
Art Hoyle-tp; Julian Priester-tb; Pat Patrick-as, bs; John Gilmore-ts; Ra-p; Wilburn Green-eb, Barry, d. All of Side B from RCA Studios, Chicago, early 1956.

Hoyle says that this was the old RCA Studios near Navy Pier. Victor Sproles is credited by Impulse, but he's not on Side B and is an unlikely candidate for Side A (where there's a lot of arco bass and/or composition credits for Boykins).

The 1967 Saturn catalog shows an abstract squiggle cover; there are also Chicago Saturn copies with a blank gold cover. Are there any copies extant with a yellow label?

Lady with the Golden Stockings (retitled The Nubians of Plutonia)
Saturn SR 9956-11E/F (c. 1966)
Saturn LP 406
Impulse AS-9242 (1974)
Evidence (CD, fall 1993)

Side A:
Plutonian Nights (Ra) (4:20)
Ra-p, Wurlitzer ep; Lucious Randolph-tp; Marshall Allen-as; John Gilmore-ts; Pat Patrick- bs; Ronnie Boykins-b; Robert Barry-d.

Lucious Randolph is not sure whether he's on this one, but Phil Cohran, whose name is listed on the Saturn and Impulse releases, says he is not on this album at all.

The Lady with the Golden Stockings (The Golden Lady) (Ra) (7:44)
Ra-Wurlitzer ep; Lucious Randolph-tp; Marshall Allen-fl; James Spaulding-as; John Gilmore-ts; Ronnie Boykins-b; Robert Barry-perc; Jim Herndon-perc; other band members- perc.

Lucious Randolph confirms his presence here.

Star Time (Ra) (4:17)
Ra-p; Lucious Randolph-tp; Nate Pryor-tb; James Spaulding-as solo; Marshall Allen-as; John Gilmore-t;, Pat Patrick-bs solo; Charles Davis-bs; Ronnie Boykins-b; Robert Barry-d; Jim Herndon-timbales, perc.

Could this be older than the others? Lucious Randolph thinks he is on this cut.

Side B:
Nubia (Ra) (8:12)
Ra-Wurlitzer ep, bells; Ronnie Boykins-b; Robert Barry-d; Jim Herndon- cga, tympani, timbales, perc; John Gilmore-Nigerian bells.

Africa (Ra) (5:06)
Ra-Wurlitzer ep; Nate Pryor-tb; Marshall Allen-fl; John Gilmore-ts; Pat Patrick-bs, space lute; Ronnie Boykins-b; Robert Barry-d, perc; Jim Herndon-timbales, perc. All sing.

Watusa (Ra) (2:33)
Ra-p; Bill Fielder-tp; Marshall Allen-as; John Gilmore-ts; Ronnie Boykins-b; Robert Barry-d, perc. Other percussion, including d, tambourine, bells, and gongs, probably by Jim Herndon, who may have gotten some help from Pat Patrick.

Lucious Randolph doesn't recall playing this one. Cohran is out too. Bill Fielder remembers playing the piece -- we're getting warm.

Aiethopia (Ra) (7:13)
Ra-p; Lucious Randolph-tp; Nate Pryor-tb; Marshall Allen-as, fl; John Gilmore-ts, bells; Pat Patrick-bs, bells; Robert Barry-d; Jim Herndon- timbales, perc; someone in Arkestra helps out on tambourine.

Randolph remembers playing this tune many times and never soloing. "Sun Ra was always talking about Ethiopia. Says that it was recorded on a gig with bad acoustics; "the mike was on the other end."

All from various clubs and rehearsal rooms, Chicago, 1958-1959.

[Personnel and soloists from album jacket; additional track-by-track breakdowns by rlc with help from Lucious Randolph, who supplied the date; Impulse says 1959]

James Spaulding began working with Ra in mid-1957. He left Chicago for "Naptown" (Indianapolis) in early 1960. [Interview in Cadence, Chase, plus conversation with L. Randolph] Drummer Alvin Fielder says he didn't work with Jim Herndon. However, Bill Fielder recalls him working with Herndon on occasion...

This album was originally titled Lady with the Golden Stockings, and is so listed in the 1967 Saturn catalog; it probably started with a blank cover and graduated to a generic Tonal View of Times Tomorrow. The issue date is unclear -- Cohran recalls being told that a piece with him on it was being issued in 1965, and the Saturn jacket says he is on the album. The new title and cover by Richard Pedreguera were in place for the 1969 Saturn catalog. On the retitled Saturn issue, The Lady with the Golden Stockings was retitled The Golden Lady.