Sun Ra
(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Church Organ 1948, 5/10
Supersonic Jazz/ Supersonic Sounds (1956), 6/10
Sun Song/ Jazz (1956), 6/10
Sound of Joy (1957), 5.5/10
Visits Planet Earth (1958), 4/10
Jazz in Silhouette (1959), 7.5/10
Lady with the Golden Stockings/ The Nubians of Plutonia (1959), 6/10
Rocket Number Nine/ Interstellar Low Ways (1960), 6/10
Fate in a Pleasant Mood (1960), 5.5/10
Angels and Demons at Play (1960), 4/10
We Travel the Spaceways (1961), 4/10
Bad and Beautiful (1961), 5/10
Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (1962), 5/10
Secrets of the Sun (1962), 6/10
When the Sun Comes Out (1963), 6/10
When Angels Speak of Love (1963), 6.5/10
Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy (1963), 8/10
Blue York (1963), 5/10
Other Planes of There (1964), 7/10
Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold (1964), 6/10
Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 1 (1965), 5.5/10
Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 2 (1965), 8/10
The Magic City (1965), 8.5/10
Other Strange Worlds (1965), 5/10
Strange Strings (1966), 7/10
Nothing Is/ Dancing Shadows (1966), 5/10
Space Aura (1966), 5/10
Monorails and Satellites (1966), 5/10
Atlantis (1967), 9/10
Continuation (1968), 6.5/10
My Brother the Wind (1968), 6.5/10
Pictures of Infinity (1968), 5/10
The Intergalactic Thing (1969), 5/10
The Solar Myth Approach Vol 1 (1970), 5/10
The Solar Myth Approach Vol 2 (1971), 5/10
Starwatchers (1971), 5/10
Universe is Blue (1972), 5/10
Astro Black (1973), 6/10
The Cymbals/ Symbols Sessions (1973), 5.5/10
Cosmos (1976), 4/10
The Mystery of Being (1978), 6/10
Days of Happiness (1979), 5/10
Strange Celestial Road (1979), 4/10
A Fireside Chat with Lucifer (1982), 5/10
Cosmo Sun Connection (1984), 5/10
Live at Red Creek (1986), 4/10
Hidden Fire (1988), 4/10

One of the towering figures of 20th century's music, Alabama-born pianist and organist Herman "Sun Ra" Blount (1914) became the cosmic musician par excellence. Despite dressing in extraterrestrial costumes (but inspired by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt) and despite living inside a self-crafted sci-fi mythology (he always maintained that he was from Saturn, and no biographer conclusively proved his birth date) and despite littering his music with lyrics inspired to a self-penned spiritual philosophy (he never engaged in sexual relationships apparently because he considered himself an angel), Sun Ra created one of the most original styles of music thanks to a chronic disrespect for both established dogmas and trendy movements.
A pianist and arranger for Fletcher Henderson's band when he moved to Chicago in 1946, Sun Ra started his own big band in the old-fashioned swing style in 1952. (The one-sided LP Church Organ 1948 documents Sun Ra's first solo homemade recording).

The influence of Duke Ellington (that would remain throughout his career) and Thelonious Monk were the only discernible links to the rest of the human race. The Arkestra, as it came to be known, relied on its three colorful saxophonists: tenor saxophonist John Gilmore (from 1953), alto saxophonist Marshall Allen (1954), and baritone saxophonist Pat Patrick (1954). The rest was filled by a rotating case of musicians, whose main role was to bring as much "color" as possible to the music, particularly any number of percussionists with prominent tympani (but the other players too usually took shifts at playing one or more percussion instruments besides their own). Their albums were eccentric tonal excursions: Supersonic Jazz/ Supersonic Sounds (october 1956), with India, the two-part Sunology, Kingdom of Not and the first version of Blues at Midnight, Sun Song/ Jazz (july 1956), with two trumpeters and trombonist Julian Priester, and containing Call For All Demons and their theme song New Horizons, Sound Of Joy (november 1957), not released until 1968, with Ankh, Reflections in Blue and Saturn, Jazz in Silhouette (march 1959), with the first extended pieces, notably Ancient Aethiopia and Blues at Midnight, besides Velvet, Lady with the Golden Stockings/ The Nubians of Plutonia (1959), not released until 1966, with the extended percussive orgies Lady With the Golden Stockings and Nubia, Rocket Number Nine/ Interstellar Low Ways (1960), not released until 1965, with the extended Interstellar Low Ways and Rocket Number Nine Take off for the Planet Venus, Fate In a Pleasant Mood (june 1960), released in 1965, with the mature percussion-driven sound of Space Mates and Kingdom of Thunder. But most of the pieces were still short bop divertissments. A chromatic fixation led Sun Ra to employ all sorts of instruments (including early electronic keyboards), a fact that made him, de facto, one of the most creative arrangers in the history of jazz music.
Other albums recycled the same material: Visits Planet Earth (1958), recorded between 1956 and 1958, Angels And Demons At Play (1960), We Travel The Spaceways (1961), recorded between 1956 and 1959, which is virtually a tribute to swing music, etc.
The Arkestra, reduced in size, relocated to New York in 1961 and Sun Ra came to be associated with the free-jazz scene, although Sun Ra had already pioneered free jazz in Chicago. The first New York albums marked a step backwards. Very few pieces continued the trend towards a percussion-dominated harmony: Beginning on Futuristic Sounds/ We Are The Future (october 1961), Exotic Two on Bad and Beautiful (december 1961), released in 1972, Kosmos in Blue and Infinity of the Universe on Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (1962), released in 1965, Love in Outer Space on Secrets of the Sun (1962), released in 1965, that also included the proto-psychedelic Solar Differentials and Solar Symbols.
Having created his own record company, Sun Ra was now free to record anything that happened to please him. And he did not hesitate to take up Ornette Coleman's challenge with: Calling Planet Earth on When Sun Comes Out (1963), the ten-minute Ecstasy of Being and the 18-minute Next Stop Mars on When Angels Speak of Love (1963), released in 1966, Adventure-Equation and Voice Of Space on Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy (1963), released in 1967, an album that exuded a psychedelic feeling, three years before the psychedelic explosion.
Blue York (march 1963) collects unreleased studio recordings by Sun Ra's Arkestra
His albums became more irrational and experimental. Other Planes of There (1964) contained the 22-minute Other Planes of There, highlighted by the interplay among John Gilmore's tenor sax, Marshall Allen's oboe and Danny Davis' alto sax. Strange Strings (1966) contained two side-long jams, the bacchanal Strange Strings and the reverb-heavy Worlds Approaching (another parade of creative solos by the wind instruments and the electric piano). That was still accessible compared with Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold (june 1964), released in 1976, whose The Voice of Pan and Dawn Over Israel were childish orgies of random sounds. Heliocentric Worlds Vol 1 (april 1965) was a minor work, that contained the hypnotic timpani-obsessed Outer Nothingness and The Cosmos. But the unrelated Heliocentric Worlds Vol 2/ Sun Myth (november 1965) was a colossal undertaking of space jazz, via the 17-minute abstract soundscape of The Sun Myth, the 14-minute satanic crescendo of Cosmic Chaos, and A House of Beauty, that belonged more to chamber music than to free jazz.
The crowning achievement of this period was The Magic City (september 1965), particularly the 27-minute suite The Magic City for a large ensemble of keyboards, trumpet, trombone, alto, tenor, baritone, flute, piccolo, clarinet, bass and percussions, but also the shorter maelstrom of The Shadow World.
The wildly exotic and eccentric Other Strange Worlds (may 1965) features the core quintet of Sun Ra (who played percussion, strings, celeste and kalimba), John Gilmore (percussion, shakerae, cymbals), Marshall Allen (kora, oboe, percussion), Art Jenkins (space voice and percussion), and Ali Hasaan (trombone and percussion).
The end of the Sixties found Sun Ra in a more eccentric mode than ever, as documented by the live albums Nothing Is/ Dancing Shadows (may 1966), later expanded as the double-cd College Tour Volume One: The Complete Nothing Is, and Pictures Of Infinity (1968), by Space Aura (may 1966), credited to Sun Ra and his Band from Outer Space, by the solo-piano collection Monorails and Satellites (1966) and the solo-keyboard collection The Solar Myth Approach Vol 2 (1971), by the electronic and dissonant experiments of The Solar Myth Approach Vol 1 (1970) and title-suite of Universe In Blue (august 1971). Years of toying with new instruments and combinations of instruments led to the new masterpieces: the epic 22-minute Atlantis on Atlantis (1967), Continuation To Jupiter Festival on Continuation (1968), the electronic The Code of Interdependence on My Brother the Wind (1970) and the synthesizer solo Space Probe (1970).

Outer Spaceways Incorporated (1968) is a reissue of Pictures of Infinity with the addition of the eight-minute Intergalactic Motion aka Ankhnaton.

Sun Embassy (Roaratorio, 2018) documents unreleased studio performances fo 1968-69 by the Astro-Ihnfinity Arkestra.

The Intergalactic Thing (november 1969) is credited to the Astro-Ihnfinity Orchestra (not the Astro-Infinity Arkestra)

The Arkestra moved to Philadelphia in 1970, but the lengthy, madcap jams simply became more insane: Nidhamu (december 1971), the 18-minute Cosmo Fire (may 1972), the 21-minute chant Space Is The Place (october 1972), the 24-minute chant Discipline 27-II (october 1972), Pathways to Unknown Worlds (1973), the free-form Cosmo-Earth Fantasy (september 1974), The Soul Vibrations of Man (november 1977).

Ra, accompanied by Gilmore, trumpeter Michael Ray (who had just started playing with Ra) and drummer Luqman Ali (Edward Skinner, who had joined the Arkestra in early 1977). recorded in Italy in the winter of 1977-78, playing grand piano, synth and rhythm box. The outcome were two double-LP studio albums, New Steps and Other Voices Other Blues (both january 1978), later collected on The Mystery Of Being, and two and a half live albums: Disco 3000 (january 1978), Media Dreams (january 1978), and two pieces, Jazzisticology and Of Other Tomorrows Never Known, that ended up as the side B of Sound Mirror, with the side A occupied by the 14-minute The Sound Mirror previously recorded in Philadelphia.

Media Dreams (january 1978) contains six pieces: Saturn Research, Constellation, Yera of the Sun, Media Dreams, Twigs at Twilight, and An Unbeknowneth Love." The double-disc reissue of Media Dreams (Art Yard, 2008) adds seven more pieces for a total of 13. Media Dreams (2022) improves the sequence of the tracks. Quote:

Discoveries revealed that the Saturn track "Twigs at Twilight," featuring torching tenor work from John Gilmore, was in fact an excerpt of Ra's evergreen "Images" (a work which dated from his late 1950s Chicago period). For this 2022 digital reissue, "Twigs" (which was included on the Art Yard CD) is replaced by the complete "Images." "An Unbeknowneth Love" was abridged on the Saturn LP; this abridged version as well as the later-discovered full version were both included on the Art Yard CD. We have included just the full version. "Of Other Tomorrows Never Known" originally appeared on the Saturn LP Sound Mirror; Art Yard added it to their 2-CD set, and we followed suit. Finally, "Space is the Place" and a brief opening passage of "The Shadow World" were listed as two tracks on the Art Yard CD, but they were performed inseparably and are here listed as a medley.

Disco 3000 (january 1978) contains four pieces: the 26-minute title-track, Third Planet, Friendly Galaxy, and Dance of the Cosmo-Aliens. That album was reissued by on Art Yard in 2005. Disco 3000 (ReR, 2009) reissues the original album, whereas Disco 3000 (ReR, 2007) is a double-CD edition including unreleased material. Disco 3000 (2022) is another double-CD that adds Jazzisticology and restores the Friendly Galaxy/ Third Planet medley as it was originally performed.

The 2019 CD release of Pathways To Unknown Worlds contained Intrinsic Energies (8:40 minutes) and Of Mythic Worlds (12:45 minutes), two pieces from the live Of Mythic Worlds (april 1978 and june 1979 recordings).

Astro Black (may 1972) contains the 11-minute title-track and a 18-minute suite, performed by the leader on various keyboards along with Danny Davis, Marshall Allen, Danny Thompson, John Gilmore, etc. The double-disc The Cymbals/Symbols Sessions: New York City 1973 was only released in 2018: it documents an octet and contains the 16-minute Thoughts Under A Dark Blue Light.

The live I Roam The Cosmos (july 1972) documents the 18-member ensemble Solar Arkestra (Danny Davis, Marshall Allen, Danny Roy Thompson, John Gilmore, etc.)

The live Planets Of Life Or Death (october 1973) contains the 24-minute Planets Of Life Or Death and a 17-minute instrumental version of Love In Outer Space.

The Sun Ra Trio with drummer Samarai Celestial (aka Eric Walker) and bassist Hayes Burnett recorded Days Of Happiness (july 1979), re-released as God Is More Than Love Can Ever Be (Cosmic Myth, 2018).

The triple LP Starwatchers (december 1971), reissued as a double-CD titled Horizon, was recorded live in Egypt.

The double-disc Helsinki 1971 (october 1971) documents another live set.

Cosmos (august 1976) contained new versions of some of his classics.

Lanquidity (july 1978) was a dance album.

Omniverse (september 1979) featured John Gilmore (tenor sax), Michael Ray (trumpet), Charles Davis (baritone sax), Hayes Burnett (bass) and Samarai Celestial (aka Eric Walker) on drums.

Slowly, though, Sun Ra's style became more traditional, displaying the links to the roots of jazz (New Orleans' collective improvisation, big-band swing) while the show (that had always included dancers and singers) remained as eccentric as possible, and soon became the main attraction for the world audiences. The lengthy pieces adopted a lyrical and funky approach, documented by On Jupiter (october 1979), I Will Wait For You (june 1979), Sleeping Beauty (november 1979), The Rose Hue Mansions of the Sun (september 1980). After all, he was human.

Strange Celestial Road (Rounder, 1979 - Celestial, 2015) contains three more of these lengthy pieces.

Sunrise In Different Dimensions (february 1980) was another live album by the core unit.

Beyond the Purple Star Zone (december 1980) and Oblique Parallax (1981), reissued as Beyond the Purple Star Zone/ Oblique Parallax ReR, 2010), document live performances by midsize bands.

The last vestiges of his ferocious free-jazz assault could be found in Journey Stars Beyond (july 1981), Stars That Shine Darkly (november 1983), with an all-star cast including trumpeters Lester Bowie and Don Cherry, and saxophonists Archie Shepp, Marshall Allen and John Gilmore, and Of Invisible Them (novembre 1989) for a 23-piece Arkestra. The live triple-disc Live In Nickelsdorf 1984 (march 1984), instead, well documents the predictable routine of those years.

Meets Salah Ragab In Egypt (may 1983) documents a live performance in which the Sun Ra Arkestra joined congo player Salah Ragab and several Egyptian musicians on various reeds and percussion.

Cosmo Sun Connection documents a 1984 session with Eloe Omoe (sax and clarinet), Marshall Allen (flute and sax), Danny Ray Thompson (bass and flute), John Gilmore (tenor sax and timbales), Tyrone Hill (trombone) and a rhythm section.

The Outer Space Arkestra comprising of Walter Miller (trumpet), Tyrone Hill (trombone), Vincent Chancey (flihorn), Marshall Allen (alto sax), John Gilmore (tenor sax) and Danny Ray Thompson (flute) is documented on A Fireside Chat With Lucifer (september 1982), reissued as Nuclear War.

Celestial Love (september 1982). and Club Lingerie (december 1985) document unreleased sessions by Sun Ra and his Arkestra.

Sun Ra & His Ethnic Structural Cosmo Arkestra's Live At Red Creek (august 1986) features Tyrone Hill (trombone), Marshall Allen (alto sax, flute, perc), John Gilmore (tenor sax, clarinet), Ronald Wilson (tenor sax), Eloe Omoe (alto sax, bass clarinet), James Jackson (Infinity drum), Pat Patrick (alto sax, electric bass), Billy Bang (violin), Bruce Edwards (electric guitar), Buster Smith, Tommy "Bugs" Hunter and Marvin "Boogaloo" Smith (drums) and vocalist June Tyson.

Prophet (august 1986), dedicated to a synthesizer and containing the 16-minute The Prophet, remained unreleased until 2022.

Hidden Fire is a series of albums recorded live during the Arkestra's january 1988 concerts at the Knitting Factory. Hidden Fire 1/2 includes only an untitled track. Hidden Fire 3/4 gathers Retrospect/This World Is Not My Home/Unidentified Blues, recorded in 1988 with the same lineup. In the meantime, The Eternal Myth Revealed is a 30-disc documentary on Sun Ra's life and times, compiled by Michael Anderson and covers the period up to 1956.

The triple-disc A Space Odyssey (Fantastic Voyage, 2015) collects music from 1933-1961 credited to the Astro-Infinity Arkestra.

The triple-disc set The Singles (Strut, 2016) collects virtually every single released by Sun Ra between 1952 and 1991.

The Arkestra is also documented on At Inter-Media Arts (april 1991).

Sun Ra died in 1993.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Carmine De Matteis)

Una delle figure di spicco della musica del ventesimo secolo, il pianista e organista originario dell’Alabama Herman “Sun Ra” Blount (1914) divenne il musicista cosmico per eccellenza. Nonostante fosse solito indossare costumi da extraterrestre (ma ispirati ai faraoni dell’antico Egitto), nonostante vivesse all’interno di una mitologia sci-fi tutta sua (ha sempre sostenuto che venisse da Saturno, e nessun biografo ha saputo provare con certezza la sua data di nascita) e nonostante avesse scritto, per le sue musiche, liriche influenzate da una filosofia spirituale personale (a quanto pare non ha mai avuto rapporti sessuali perché si considerava un angelo), Sun Ra creò uno degli stili musicali più originali grazie ad una mancanza cronica di rispetto nei confronti sia dei dogmi precostituiti che dei movimenti di tendenza. Già pianista e arrangiatore per la band di Fletcher Henderson quando si trasferì a Chicago nel 1946, Sun Ra formò la propria big band di swing vecchio stile nel 1952. L’influenza di Duke Ellington (persistente in tutta la sua carriera) e di Thelonious Monk erano gli unici collegamenti riconoscibili fra lui e il resto della razza umana. The Arkestra — è così che si fece conoscere la band — faceva affidamento su tre interessanti sassofonisti: John Gilmore al sax tenore (dal 1953), Marshall Allen al sax alto (1954), e Pat Patrick al sax baritono (1954). Il resto fu completato da una serie casuale di turnisti, la cui funzione era quella di conferire più “colore” possibile alla musica, in particolare un numero imprecisato di percussionisti con timpani potenti (ma anche gli altri musicisti di solito suonavano una o più percussioni oltre al proprio strumento). I loro album erano escursioni tonali eccentriche: Supersonic Jazz/ Supersonic Sounds (ottobre 1956), con India, Sunology composta da due parti, Kingdom of Not e la prima versione di Blues at Midnight; Sun Song/ Jazz (luglio 1956), con due trombettisti e il trombonista Julian Priester, che conteneva Call For All Demons e la loro theme song New Horizons; Sound Of Joy (novembre 1957), non rilasciato fino al 1968, con Ankh, Reflections in Blue e Saturn, Jazz in Silhouette (1958), con le prima tracce lunghe, specialmente Ancient Aethiopia e Blues at Midnight, oltre a  Velvet; Lady with the Golden Stockings/ The Nubians of Plutonia (1959), non rilasciato fino al 1966, con le lunghe orgie percussive di Lady With the Golden Stockings e Nubia; Rocket Number Nine/ Interstellar Low Ways (1960), non rilasciato fino al 1965, con la lunga Interstellar Low Ways e Rocket Number Nine Take off for the Planet Venus; Fate In a Pleasant Mood (giugno 1960), rilasciato nel 1965, con il suono percussivo maturo di Space Mates e Kingdom of Thunder. Anche se la maggior parte dei pezzi erano ancora corti divertissments bop . Un’ossessione cromatica portò Sun Ra ad utilizzare tutte le tipologie di strumenti (incluse le prime tastiere elettroniche)), una circostanza che lo rese, de facto, uno dei più creativi arrangiatori nella storia della musica jazz. Gli altri album riciclarono lo stesso materiale: Visits Planet Earth (1958), registrato tra il 1956 e il 1958, Angels And Demons At Play (1960), We Travel The Spaceways (1961), registrati tra il 1956 e il 1959, che è virtualmente un tributo alla musica swing, etc. The Arkestra, seppur ridotta nei componenti, si trasferì a New York nel 1961 e Sun Ra venne dunque associato alla scena free-jazz, sebbene avesse già da tempo scoperto il free jazz a Chicago. I primi album newyorkesi segnarono forse un qualche arretramento. Molti pochi pezzi continuarono il trend armonico percussionista: Beginning su Futuristic Sounds/ We Are The Future (ottobre 1961), Exotic Two su Bad and Beautiful (dicembre 1961), rilasciato nel 1972, Kosmos in Blue e Infinity of the Universe su Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (1962), rilasciato nel 1965, Love in Outer Space su Secrets of the Sun (1962), rilasciato nel 1965, che includeva inoltre le proto-psichedeliche Solar Differentials e Solar Symbols. Dopo aver fondato la sua etichetta discografica, Sun Ra era ora libero di registrare tutto quello che gli veniva in mente. E non esitò a chiamare a rapporto Ornette Coleman: Calling Planet Earth su When Sun Comes Out (1963), Ecstasy of Being (dieci minuti) e Next Stop Mars (diciotto minuti) su When Angels Speak of Love (1963), rilasciato nel 1966, Adventure-Equation e Voice Of Space su Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy (1963), rilasciato nel 1967, un album che trasuda psichedelia, tre anni prima dell’esplosione della psichedelia. I suoi album divennero più irrazionali e sperimentali. Other Planes of There (1964) contenente Other Planes of There di ventidue minuti, evidenziata dall’interazione fra il sax tenore di John Gilmore, l’oboe di Marshall Allen e il sax alto di Danny Davis. Strange Strings (1966) con due lunghe jam, il baccanale Strange Strings e la reverberante Worlds Approaching (un’altra dimostrazione di assoli creativi di strumenti a fiato e di un pianoforte elettrico). E tutto questo era ancora accessibile se paragonato con Featuring Pharoah Sanders and Black Harold (giugno 1964), rilasciato nel 1976, dove The Voice of Pan e Dawn Over Israel erano orgie infantili di suoni casuali. Heliocentric Worlds Vol 1 (aprile 1965) era un lavoro minore, che conteneva l’ipnotica e percussiva Outer Nothingness e The Cosmos. Ma l’estemporaneo Heliocentric Worlds Vol 2/ Sun Myth (novembre 1965) era una colossale impresa di space jazz, con l’astratto panorama sonoro di diciassette minuti di The Sun Myth, il crescendo satanico di quattordici minuti di Cosmic Chaos, e A House of Beauty, che partecipava più della musica da camera che del free jazz. Come coronamento di questo periodo uscì The Magic City (settembre 1965), in particolare la suite di ventisette minuti The Magic City per un vasto ensemble di tastiere, tromba, trombone, sax alto, sax tenore, sax baritono, flauto, ottavino, clarinetto, basso e percussioni, ma anche il maelstrom più breve di The Shadow World. Al termine degli anni ’60 Sun Ra era più eccentrico che mai, come documentato dal live album Nothing Is/ Dancing Shadows (maggio 1966), più tardi rilasciato come doppio cd College Tour Volume One: The Complete Nothing Is, e Pictures Of Infinity (1968), dalla collezione di assoli per pianoforte Monorails and Satellites (1966), dalla collezione di assoli per tastiera The Solar Myth Approach Vol 2 (1971), e dagli esperimenti elettronici e dissonanti di The Solar Myth Approach Vol 1 (1970) e dalla title-suit di Universe In Blue (agosto 1971). Anni di gioco e combinazioni con i nuovi strumenti portano a nuovi capolavori: l’epica traccia di ventidue minuti Atlantis su Atlantis (1967), le quattro tracce di  Outer Spaceways Incorporated (1968), rilasciato nel 1974, Continuation To su Continuation (1968), l’elettronica The Code of Interdependence su My Brother the Wind (1970) e l’assolo di sintetizzatore di Space Probe (1970).
The Arkestra si spostò a Philadelphia nel 1970, con il risultato che le prolisse e folli jams divennero semplicemente ancora più pazze: Nidhamu (dicembre 1971), Cosmo Fire di diciotto minuti (maggio 1972), il canto di ventuno minuti di Space Is The Place (ottobre 1972), e quello di ventiquattro minuti di Discipline 27-II (ottobre 1972), Pathways to Unknown Worlds (1973), la free-form di Cosmo-Earth Fantasy (settembre 1974), The Soul Vibrations of Man (novembre 1977). Disco 3000 (gennaio 1978) era una registrazione live di un quartetto (tastiere, sassofono, tromba, batterie) con Sun Ra al sintetizzatore e alla drum-machine. New Steps e Other Voices Other Blues (gennaio 1978), in seguito raccolte su The Mystery Of Being, documenta un quartetto con Michael Ray alla tromba, Lugman Ali alla batteria, e  John Gilmore.

Disco 3000 (ReR, 2009) ripubblica l’album originale, e Disco 3000 (ReR, 2007) è un edizione doppia che include material inedito.
Il triplo LP Starwatchers (dicembre 1971), ripubblicato come il doppio Horizon, fu registrato dal vivo in Egitto.

Il doppio cd Helsinki 1971 (ottobre 1971) documenta un altro live set. Lentamente, purtroppo, lo stile di Sun Ra divenne più tradizionale, dimostrando collegamenti con le radici del jazz (le improvvisazioni collettive di New Orleans, le big band di swing) laddove lo spettacolo (che includeva sempre ballerini e cantanti) restava più eccentrico possibile, e presto divenne la principale attrazione per il pubblico mondiale. Le lunghe tracce adottavano un approccio lirico e funky , documentato in On Jupiter (ottobre 1979), I Will Wait For You (giugno 1979), Sleeping Beauty (novembre 1979), The Rose Hue Mansions of the Sun (settembre 1980). Dopotutto, era umano.

Sunrise In Different Dimensions (febbraio 1980) era un altro album dal vivo del gruppo principale.

Beyond the Purple Star Zone (dicembre 1980) e Oblique Parallax (1981), ripubblicato come Beyond the Purple Star Zone/ Oblique Parallax ReR, 2010), documenta le performance dal vivo di una band di medie dimensioni.

Le ultime vestigial del suo free-jazz feroce possono rinvenirsi in Journey Stars Beyond (luglio 1981), Stars That Shine Darkly (novembre 1983), con un cast di star come I trombettisti Lester Bowie e Don Cherry, e i sassofonisti Archie Shepp, Marshall Allen e John Gilmore, e Of Invisible Them (novembre 1989) per l’ Arkestra composta da ventitré elementi.

The Outer Space Arkestra composta da Walter Miller (tromba), Tyrone Hill (trombone), Vincent Chancey (corno), Marshall Allen (sax alto), John Gilmore (sax tenore) e Danny Ray Thompson (flauto) è documentata in A Fireside Chat With Lucifer (settembre 1982), ripubblicato come Nuclear War.

Live At Red Creek (agosto 1986) di Sun Ra & His Ethnic Structural Cosmo Arkestra con Tyrone Hill (trombone), Marshall Allen (sax alto, flauto), John Gilmore (sax tenore, clarinetto), Ronald Wilson (sax tenore), Eloe Omoe (sax alto, clarinetto, basso), James Jackson (batteria), Pat Patrick (sax alto, basso elettrico), Billy Bang (violino), Bruce Edwards (chitarra elettrica), Buster Smith, Tommy "Bugs" Hunter e Marvin "Boogaloo" Smith (batterie) e il cantante June Tyson.

Media Dreams (ReR, 2008) contiene 13 pezzi registrati da Sun Ra (pianoforte, organo, moog, rhythm machine, voci), John Gilmore (sax tenore, batterie, voci), Lugman Ali (batterie, voci), Michael Ray (tromba, voci).

Hidden Fire è una serie di album registrati dal vivo durante I concerti dell’Arkestra alla Knitting Factory nel gennaio del 1988. Hidden Fire 1/2 include solo una traccia senza nome. Hidden Fire 3/4 raccoglie Retrospect/This World Is Not My Home/Unidentified Blues, registrati nel 1988 con la stessa lineup. Nel frattempo, The Eternal Myth Revealed è un documentario in trenta dischi sulla vita di Sun Ra compilato da Michael Anderson che copre tutta la sua carriera dal 1956.

Sun Ra è morto nel 1993.

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