Sun Ra, Planet Earth / Low Ways

Michael Shore

By Michael Shore

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Planet Earth / Low Ways

Sun Ra

From Evidence's invaluable reclamation of the long-lost Saturn archives, a comprehensive portrait of where Ra was coming from and going to, bookending some of his first (the 1956 Planet Earth) and last (the 1960 Low Ways) Chicago sessions. From surprisingly polished and "conventional" swing and bop, the music mutates through increasingly dissonant and percussive ethno-exotica; Ra's resourceful, piquant voicings make ten instruments or less sound much bigger. Duke surely would've dug the shapely "Eve" and "Planet Earth," if only he'd heard them. On the seriously forward-looking Low Ways, the title track hauntingly dislocates the standard "Tenderly," while in "Rocket Number Nine Take Off for the Planet Venus," a staccato odd-meter space-chant launches tenor sax giant John Gilmore outward-bound at high velocity.