Monorails And Satellites (180 gram)

£ 19.99

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Despite Sun Ra's obsession with the future, Monorails and Satellites is something of a nostalgia trip. As a youth in Birmingham, Alabama, the man who became Sun Ra — Herman Poole Blount — spent hours at the Forbes Piano Company, amusing himself (as well as staff and customers) at the showroom keyboards. He practiced standards, emulated his piano heroes, played the latest pop songs, and improvised. The idyllic reveries which the teen experienced in those formative years were no doubt recaptured during the Monorails sessions.

The playing here speaks less of a style, and more of a collection of statements. Some of the tunes, with their odd juxtapositions of mood, could be mistaken for silent film scores. Perhaps they were audio notebooks, a way to generate ideas which could be developed with the band ("I think orchestra"). Regardless of any secondary (and admittedly speculative) intent, they serve as compelling standalone works. The fingering reflects Sun Ra's encyclopedic knowledge of piano history as his passages veer from stride to swing, from barrelhouse to post-bop, from march to Cecil Taylor-esque free flights, with a bit of soothing "candelabra" swank thrown in. Sunny's attack is mercurial, his themes unpredictable. His hands can be primitive or playful, then abruptly turn sensitive and elegant. As with the whole of Sun Ra's recorded legacy, you get everything but consistency and predictability.

The listener also experiences something rare in the Sun Ra recorded omniverse: intimacy. His albums, generally populated by the rotating Arkestral cast, are raucous affairs. With the Monorails sessions, we eavesdrop on private moments: the artist, alone with his piano. These are brief audio snapshots of what was surely a substantial part of Sun Ra's life, infinitesimal surviving scraps of 100,000 hours similarly spent, most lost to posterity.

Reissue by Scorpio on 180 gram virgin vinyl.


Space Towers
Cogitation
Skylight
The Alter Destiny
Easy Street
Blue Differentials
Monorails And Satellites
The Galaxy Way
Format: LP
Label: Saturn Research
Catalogue numbers: SR-509

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Media Condition: Mint (M)
Sleeve Condition: Mint (M)

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