Sun Ra and his Arkestra Jazz in Silhouette 2010 Saturn
Sun Ra: A visionary disciple for afrofuturism, or a shrewd self-promoter? Born Herman Poole Blount in Birmingham, Alabama, he would go on to lead a controversial and simultaneously prolific career as a crossover jazz artist and “cosmic philosopher”. His outlandish costumes and claims of having originated from Saturn earned him many a curious onlooker, which resulted in a drastically elevated profile outside the jazz world and included feature films, a Rolling Stone cover, and performances on Saturday Night Live.
Jazz In Silhouette features Sun Ra and cohorts whilst inhabiting a farily conservative brand of swing and big-band jazz. Recorded in Chicago in 1959, this performance predated his stint in New York in the 60’s which resulted in more experimental, synthesized sounds and avant-garde approaches to music. Sun Ra himself is in fine melodic form as he meanders across the ivories, though it’s not until the final track of the collection, “Blues At Midnight”, that the music begins to mesh with the intergalactic allusions of the cover art. It is then that the Arkestra finally does venture into martian landscapes, hinting at some of the psychadelic, spacey jazz that would follow upon his eventual arrival in New York.
(this passage is taken from the jacket back) ”About the Cover: In Tomorrow’s World, men will not need artificial instruments such as Jets and Space Ships. In the world of Tomorrow the new man will ‘think’ the lace he wants to go, then his mind will take him there. This cover is a view of on of the moon’s of SATURN, taken about 300 space miles up.” (the art is mysteriously credited to ‘Evans’)