Sun Ra - Cosmos

Sun Ra has always been an explorer, venturing out among the cycles and frequencies of the musical cosmos like a wild astronaut, bent on rejoicing and celebrating the wonders of the universe. The extended metaphor of space travel permeates the emotional climate of this masterful recording, as Sun Ras Arkestra reaches out to express the vibrations of the stars as in Interstellar the adventure of travel as in "Moonship" and "Unknown Planet." Sun Ra has always been ahead of his time, musically and spiritually, and has suffered somewhat at the hands of fashionable critics who disdained his attempts at cosmic communications.

LeRoi Jones, in his perceptive book Black Music, understood Sun Ras quest better than most contemporary observers, and made these comments in 1966. All the concepts that seemed vague and unrealized in the late 1950s have come together in the mature and profound music and compositions of this philosopher-musician. Sun Ras Arkestra is really a black family. The leader keeps fourteen or fifteen musicians playing with him, who are convinced that music is a priestly concern and vitally significant aspect of black culture. Some of the musicians like tenor man John Gilmore, might have jobs with other bread bands, but their strongest dedication is to the beautiful black sound-world of Sun Ra.

SKU: IC1020

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The Mystery of Two Interstellar Low-Ways Neo-Project #2 Cosmos Moonship Journey Journey Among The Stars Jazz From An Unknown Planet

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Sun Ra
Instruments Music and Musicians
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor trombonist - Craig Harris, french horn - Vincent Chancey, alto sax - Marshall Allen, Danny Davis, John Gilmore, Ahmed Abdullah, electric bass - R. Anthony Bunn,
SKU IC1020


Customer Reviews (5)

"An Intergalactic Trip!"Review by Big Toots
IC 1020 Cosmos Sun Ra

Since I first heard his work, I’ve had this kept-to-myself theory – and am willing to bet on it - that there are more than a handful of jazz musicians out there who are envious of Sun Ra and the members of his Arkestra. Where else can an artist be so free to explore and express their own unbounded creativity in an environment that brims and beams with freedom? It’s certainly not when one opts for the mercenary over Mercury.

With “Cosmos” (and in a way similar to author Carl Sagan’s mind-boggling, fact-filled television shows), Sun Ra metaphors the infinite boundaries – and beauties and ferocities - of the universe with that which emanates from the musical and percussive instruments he and his cohorts employ. And, he and the Arkestra soar on a musical trajectory that staggers the mind.

“Cosmos” is Sun Ra at his best. It is an infinity of textures that, while delivered free as a bird, surprisingly retains aural mirror images of almost every seminal element of “structured” jazz, from the most aboriginally primitive through Parker, Trane and beyond. “The Mystery of Two” and “Interstellar Low-Ways” set that tone immediately and the title cut cements that (“Cosmos”). To his credit Sun Ra does not produce “cosmic program music” (in the sense of Gustav Holst’s “The Planets”). His compositions respect a listener’s prerogative to engage and wallow in their personal emotion and mental imagery (“Neo-Project #2” and “Moonship Journey,” complete with its vocal chants). The ensemble and the soloists here (whether working individually or collectively) are deeply embedded in the musical philosophy and approach.

“Cosmos” is a fascinating, enthralling recording, easily approachable, by the way, for new listeners’ ears. Who wouldn’t want to take a ride on this “Ra-cket?”
(Posted on 6/23/2015)
CosmosReview by Simon Sez
Sun Ra, with his outer space ideas, interest in ancient Egypt, outlandish costumes (for him and his Arkestra) and avant-garde music, has always confused most listeners. Even in the 1970s when Cosmos was recorded, Ra was way ahead of his time.

On Cosmos, Ra and his 12-piece Arkestra play more swinging music than usual while still being mostly outside. Ra is heard on the “rocksichord,” an electric keyboard that probably no one else ever played. Among the stars on this album are trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah, trombonist Craig Harris, John Gilmore on tenor, altoist Marshall Allen and Jac Jackson on bassoon. Don’t let the outer space trappings scare you off. This is adventurous if eccentric music that deserves to be checked out.

Simon Sez: Sun Ra’s music may be out of this world at times but on Cosmos (IC1020) much of the music is swinging if eccentric jazz. (Posted on 5/6/2014)
More brilliance from the planet SaturnReview by bruklover
More brilliance from the planet Saturn's most musical exports,the mighty Sun Ra. This LP is a real bridge between his earlier heavy acoustic work and later more chilled funky work that featured lots of work on electronic keys and a more accessible sound.Recorded in 1976 as a one off fro Inner City records and featuring a mid-sized incarnation of the Arketsra. Sound quality is often an issue on Ra records but here the recording is fine. The whole spectrum of Sun Ra's styles are covered (here except perhaps wild free stuff). Opener"The Mystery Of Two" is a superb swinging number with the band really shining. The record then moves into a more subdued and chilled mood with the beginnings of the late 70's sound made so popular on LP's like Sleeping Beauty. Side two opens with the LP's best cut "Moonship Journey" complete with space chants and crazy lyrics in true Arkestra fashion. It is on side 2 that one is drawn to the stunning work of long time sidemen john Gilmore and Marshall Allen who produce some of their best performances here. Finally Ra is working on the Rocksichord which I feel is the instrument that suits his odd music to a tee. (Posted on 5/5/2014)
The Stars Come Out To Swing on COSMOS! Review by Michael F. Hopkins
COSMOS is quintessential Sun Ra. Originally issued around 1976, it has shown up on America's Inner City label as a badly-pressed LP, and has surfaced with much better CD remastering through France's Spalax Music in 1999 and, currently, Japan's P-Vine label. Any copy of this CD you can find will be more than worth the effort.

Recorded during some of the Arkestra's most extensive globetrotting of the mid-1970s, this European recording is Ra at his msot swingingly robust, and polytonally visionary. The watchword for this recording is smooth. Listen to "The Mystery Of Two", its stellar drive propelling a luxurious ride into deeper plains, or the renowned "Interstellar Low-Ways" exuding its eternal charm via its network of multiple flutes sighing a most winsome song. Trombonist Craig Harris -or is it French horn man Vincent Chancey?- is a knockout on "Two", matched only by the blistering alto of Marshall Allen -or Danny Davis?- to flesh out the significance of the song's title. Some of tenor titan John Gilmore's most breathtaking work begins here.

"Neo-Project#2" is a loping walk through some aural variations on the old cartoon about WACKYLAND, hinting all manner of playful mischief at hand. It can definitely happen here! Listen to trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah weave his bright lyricism through the song's many paths. Oh and, as you're listening, check out Ra on the "rocksichord", putting what could be a clavinet -or a plain ol' electric piano- through some deliciously baroque changes! R. Anthony Bunn struts his electric bass around the bend and back again on "Cosmos". The title piece is a quick-stepping, finger-popping romp which showcases Gilmore at his most equestrian; slapping that diamond-clean sound into center track without losing a moment's stride, leaping tall in the saddle at solo's peak. What a ride!

After the warming chant of the friendly "Moonship Journey", spin into the astral musings of "Journey Among The Stars", and don't be surprised if its gentle sweep places you some galaxies or dreamscapes away. Dig the minuet imagery that Ra conjures into your inner ear! If you aren't enchanted by this time, "Jazz From An Unknown Planet" strolls the spell straight home. One of the deadliest vamps ever conceived, COSMOS' climax may stir images of Oliver Nelson's acclaimed "Stolen Moments" even as the Arkestra makes its own stake on the theme of cultural reclamation, and aesthetic assertion. Abdullah paints a beautiful tapestry of color and rhapsody, doing Woody Shaw proud while forming a deep perspective all his own. Gilmore soars in and testifies, sound pronouncements a solid baptismal for all which you have never been told of.

Anyone who thinks that Ra's tighter orchestrations ended by 1960, when the Arkestra left Chicago, listen to COSMOS and -once you've picked your jaw up from the floor!- be enlightened.

Know your myth. Shape your reality. (Posted on 5/5/2014)
From AllMusic.comReview by Ron Wynn
A hard-to-find, alternately chaotic and tightly organized mid-'70s session that was issued on the Cobra, and then Inner City labels. Sun Ra provided some stunning moments on the Rocksichord, while leading The Arkestra through stomping full-band cuts of atmospheric or alternately hard bop compositions, peeling off various saxophonists for skittering, screaming, at times spacey dialogues. (Posted on 5/5/2014)

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