Friday, July 25, 2014

Mastering comparison and review of 2014 Sun Ra Mastered for iTunes Remasters


In honor of Sun Ra's Centenary in 2014 Michael "The Good Doctor" Anderson (Sun Ra's personally appointed archivist) and Irwin Chusid have begun to re-release highlights from Sun Ra's discography in partnership with Sun Ra LLC via iTunes, in digital "Mastered for iTunes" form - using new hi-res transfers from the master tapes where available.

This is such a treasure trove of music, that it will take the Sun Ra community years to truly evaluate and absorb all of the details and comparisons - from the unreleased material to the new masterings, and how they compare to the myriad of releases that have preceded.

In my research, I have always made the point to collect as many versions of the same release as I can acquire, in an effort to determine what the truly best masterings of the material are.

I normally choose physical, lossless and hi-res formats when purchasing my music and was highly skeptical about buying the catalog yet again, let alone in a lossy lower bit rate format.

In general, from a mastering, dynamics, noise reduction and EQ standpoint, I can say that each new 2014 Remaster I have analyzed is the best version currently available, and that the Anderson/Chusid team have done a great job, and made tasteful mastering choices that honor Sun Ra's legacy. 

One thing that did surprise me, is that many of the previous issues and reissues are not as terrible as the consensus has built them up to be. In some of the comparisons, you will find some of the differences require real attention to perceive, while some are glaringly obvious. I think what it comes down to, is that the source material can be less that ideal, and that the mastering choices made by the engineer are very important - this is where I give Mr. Anderson and Mr. Chusid high praise. They have made very tasteful and musical choices with their technical approach.

You can be assured that if you are new to the music, or an old fan that knows the records inside and out, that you can have confidence in purchasing all of these new remasters. The only thing to deter you is if Mastered for iTunes 256 kbs AAC's are unacceptable. Luckily, from the sounds of it physical versions will follow sometime in 2015 after Apple's exclusive license expires. 

However, if you're a true Sun Ra devotee, less than ideal sound quality is something you've learned to accept. That is not to say that these new 2014 Remasters don't sound excellent, I just suspect that in the original 24-96 khz realm that they were sampled in, that there is a lot more to be heard on these tapes from a dynamic range and "breath of life" standpoint.

Here's are the first 4 shoot-outs I did. I look forward to hearing your thoughts - please contribute your opinions via the comments section below.

Mastering comparison for Sunology, Pt. 1 from Super-Sonic Jazz (19560413-19561000 RCA Studios; Chicago, IL)
00:00:00 - 00:37:62 Saturn H7 0P 0216 and H7 OP 0217 LP
00:37:62 - 01:03:50 A.B.C. Records/Impulse AS-9271 LP
01:03:50 - 01:39:10 Evidence ECD 22015-2
01:39:10 - 02:34:25 Scorpio Reissue LP SR-LP-0216
02:34:25 - 05:42:00 Mastered for iTunes Remaster 2014

Mastering comparison for Enlightenment from Jazz In Silhouette (19590306 Chicago, IL)
00:00:00 - 01:30:50 El Saturn Records LP 5786
01:30:50 - 03:12:50 Evidence ECD 22012-2
03:12:50 - 05:02:00 Mastered for iTunes Remaster 2014

Mastering comparison for Plutonian Nights from The Nubians of Plutonia (19580000-19590000 Chicago, IL)
00:00:00 - 00:59:40 Saturn LP
00:59:40 - 01:58:25 Evidence ECD
01:58:25 - 02:58:00 Scorpio Reissue LP
02:58:00 - 04:19:00 Mastered for iTunes Remaster 2014

Mastering comparison for Tiny Pyramids from Angels and Demons at Play (19560000-19600000 Hall Recording Company, Rehearsals, RCA Studios)
00:00:00 - 00:42:00 Saturn LP
00:42:00 - 01:22:25 ABC/Impulse LP
01:22:25 - 02:02:25 Evidence ECD
02:02:25 - 02:41:30 Scorpio Reissue LP
02:41:30 - 03:36:00 Mastered for iTunes Remaster 2014

From "The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening" by Chris Raschka. http://www.amazon.com/The-Cosmobiography-Sun-Ra-Enlightening/dp/0763658065
From "The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening" by Chris Raschka. http://www.amazon.com/The-Cosmobiography-Sun-Ra-Enlightening/dp/0763658065

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sun Ra 19790725 God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be El Saturn Records 72579

83. Sun Ra and his Arkestra
God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be
(Blithe Spirit Dance)
(Days of Happiness)
(Trio)
Saturn 72579

Side A:
Days of Happiness (Ra)
Magic City Blue (Ra)
Tenderness (Ra)

Side B:
Blithe Spirit Dance (Ra)
God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be (Ra)

Ra-p; Richard Williams-b; Luqman Ali-d. Recorded 7/25/1979.
[Geerken and Stahl; thanks to Mark Webber for a tape]

http://web.archive.org/web/20080120091227/http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~moudry/disc_d.htm

http://www.discogs.com/Sun-Ra-Days-Of-Happiness/release/3144311

Sun Ra 19790725 God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be El Saturn Records 72579
Sun Ra 19790725 God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be El Saturn Records 72579

Sun Ra 19790913 Omniverse El Saturn Records 91379

84. Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Omniverse
Saturn 91379

Side A:
The Place of Five Points (Ra)
West End Side of Magic City (Ra)
Dark Lights in a White Forest (Ra)
Side B:

Omniverse (Ra)
Visitant of the Ninth Ultimate (Ra)

Ra-p; Michael Ray-tp; Marshall Allen-as; John Gilmore-ts; Danny Ray Thompson-bs; Richard Williams-b; Luqman Ali-d. Probably West End Cafe, New York, 9/13/1979. [Geerken, corrected by rlc; thanks to Dan Plonsey for a tape]

Sun Ra played Saturn 456 on WKCR. It was a pressing of Side A of this album. There was nothing on the label (as read by Phil Schaap) except Saturn 456 and West End. Is West End also a reference to Ra's old stomping grounds in Birmingham? Five Points seems to be. [rlc]

http://web.archive.org/web/20080120091227/http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~moudry/disc_d.htm

http://www.discogs.com/Sun-Ra-Omniverse/release/3142962

Sun Ra 19790913 RLC#310 Omniverse El Saturn Records 91379
Sun Ra 19790913 RLC#310 Omniverse El Saturn Records 91379

Sun Ra 19790913 RLC#310 Omniverse El Saturn Records 91379
Sun Ra 19790913 RLC#310 Omniverse El Saturn Records 91379

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Sun Ra Archives of Alton Abraham and James Bryant via destination-out.com



The destination-out.com site seems lost to the ether of the internet, but I wanted to archive this post from it about the Alton Abraham and James Bryant Sun Ra Archives by Michael Anderson.

Here's more on where Sun Ra tapes did end up:


http://destination-out.com/?p=25

"Dr. Bop Says:
March 14th, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Dear Space Friends,

Thank you ever so kindly for this site. I was a member of the Arkestra during the height of the next height of the band during the mid 70’s. I am currently writng a book about this time when we had Craig Harris, Robin and Kevin Eubanks (Jay Leno Show), Bobo Brown (Oscar’s Brown Jr.’s son) and so many others.

Sun Ra gave me the job as Music Archivist due to my being on radio back then (WRTI-FM-Temple University) and I currently am correcting the many discographies that exist and am chronologically writing a spreadsheet on the concerts that were done from day one up to his passing.

In view of the discography; Sun Ra recorded enough material for several albums in one session and I have found numerous alternate takes and unreleased material.

I left the band, as a performer, in 1984 to further my radio broadcast career at WBGO-FM Jazz 88 in Newark, New Jersey but remained involved as promotions person making sure the records were being played on radio. Of course I would go to see my space family from time to time.

After Sunny had the first stroke I would go to Philly to give him a bath and clean up the house and pack up tapes that were scattered everywhere. At one point Sunny said for me to take some of the tapes because I would know what to do with them. At one point things started disappearing from the house and I sent Alton Abraham what I had.

In 1988 Alton Abraham received a **** load of tapes and Sunny got real pissed at me for doing this. I sent the tapes Alton so not to be blamed for any unjust actions.

After Sunny then Alton split the planet the tapes again came into my possession from Mr. James Bryant, one of the original board members of El Saturn Research, back in the year 2000. At this point I was working with Bernard Stollman (ESP-Disk) and he and Mr. Bryant were at odds most of the time.

When I received the tapes they were in horrendous shape, out of boxes, wrong tapes in boxes, and so much other heart wrenching ****. I knew I had a job on my hands which started back in the mid 70’s.

I was advised by Mr. James Bryant to return all tapes after I did my research which I did. Mr. Bryant didn’t trust many people and after I semi walked away from the project he put the tapes in storage and then died. To this day some of the tapes are presumed lost.

So, in closing, I’m working with Marshall Allen, Danny Thompson, and Elson on reinstating the legal documents involving El Saturn Research as a record label. There are so many great shows we did that were recorded that I hope some day soon will finally be released.

Space Is The Place

Dr. Bop"

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What is the Sun Ra song "Circe" from When Sun Comes Out about?

In Greek mythology, Circe (/ˈsɜrsiː/; Greek Κίρκη Kírkē pronounced [kírkɛ͜ɛ]) was a goddess of magic (or sometimes a nymph, witch, enchantress or sorceress). By most accounts, Circe was the daughter of Helios, the god of the sun, and Perse, an Oceanid. Her brothers were Aeetes, the keeper of the Golden Fleece, and Perses. Her sister was Pasiphaë, the wife of King Minos and mother of the Minotaur. Other accounts make her the daughter of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft herself.

Circe was renowned for her vast knowledge of potions and herbs. Through the use of magical potions and a wand or a staff, she transformed her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals. Some say she was exiled to the solitary island of Aeaea by her subjects and her father for ending the life of her husband, the prince of Colchis. Later traditions tell of her leaving or even destroying the island and moving to Italy, where she was identified with Cape Circeo.


Sun Ra song "Circe" from When Sun Comes Out: Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus by John William Waterhouse
Sun Ra song "Circe" from When Sun Comes Out: Circe Offering the Cup to Odysseus by John William Waterhouse

Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Weld for Birmingham 4 Part Sun Ra Series by Burgin Mathews

2014 Weld for Birmingham 4 Part Sun Ra Series by Burgin Mathews
http://weldbham.com/blog/category/art-culture/sun-ra-series/ 

Burgin Mathews is the co-author, with Frank Adams, of "Doc: The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man." He hosts The Lost Child roots radio hour on Birmingham Mountain Radio.

April 29, 2014
The Magic Citizen: Sun Ra in Birmingham 
Part one of four.
http://weldbham.com/blog/2014/04/29/the-magic-citizen-sun-ra-in-birmingham-2/ 

May 6, 2014
The Magic Citizen: Sonny rising 
Part two of four.
http://weldbham.com/blog/2014/05/06/the-magic-citizen-sonny-rising/ 

May 14, 2014
The Magic Citizen: First steps into outer space 
Part three of four.
http://weldbham.com/blog/2014/05/14/the-magic-citizen-first-steps-into-outer-space/ 

May 22, 2014
The Magic Citizen: The voyager returns 
Part four of four.
http://weldbham.com/blog/2014/05/22/the-magic-citizen-the-voyager-returns/

ADVERTISEMENT FOR SONNY BLOUNT AND HIS “SOLO-VAX” (SIC), ATLANTA DAILY WORLD, AUGUST 1, 1941
ADVERTISEMENT FOR SONNY BLOUNT AND HIS “SOLO-VAX” (SIC), ATLANTA DAILY WORLD, AUGUST 1, 1941

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Happy 90th Arrival Day to the Sun Ra Arkestra's Marshall Belford Allen!

Happy 90th Arrival Day Marshall Belford Allen!

Born May 25, 1924, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, Planet Earth

Thank you for all of the years of beautiful music.

Happy 90th Arrival Day to the Sun Ra Arkestra's Marshall Belford Allen!
Happy 90th Arrival Day Marshall Belford Allen!