Jazz Record Center

Sun Ra - The Other Side of the Sun - Sweet Earth


Sweet Earth

The Other Side of the Sun features Sun Ra as elder statesman and master of the recording studio.The Other Side of the Sun is the first release on CD of an obscure album previously available on the Sweet Earth label. Recorded in 1978-79, it turns out to be one of the strongest studio recordings of Ra's last decade and a half, on the same level as 1990's Mayan Temples. Throughout the '80s, Ra's music was much less experimental and more rooted in older jazz styles than it was in the late '60s and early '70s, and this record in many ways serves as an earlier pointer to that direction. The CD opens with "Space Fling," a delightful big band romp that swings ferociously. There are two cover tunes: a slightly twisted, sublime version of "Flamingo" that manages to emulate the mood of the Ellington/Strayhorn arrangement while undermining it at the same time, and a marvelous version of "The Sunny Side of the Street," with one of the best John Gilmore tenor sax solos of the later period of his playing. Almost every studio recording of Ra's signature tune "Space is the Place" is unique; this version is an extended space/funk workout in the style of Lanquidity. The disc ends with a beautiful controlled improvisation piece, "Manhattan Cocktail," with several sequences of contrasting textures and instrumental combinations, unified by Sun Ra's electronic keyboard work--an excellent close to an excellent album.2001-06-29 (Originally published in Nine Times, 2001)

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