A rare and, frankly, stunning live Sun Ra performance from 1977 has entered the streaming ether.
Recorded at New York City’s Storyville jazz club exactly 43 years ago today, the show was pressed to vinyl and released on the Italian label Horo the following year as Unity. But if you’re not trying to drop a bundle for an original pressing of the double-LP on Discogs (where a copy will run you anywhere between $115 and $290 depending on the condition,) the remastered audio is a damn-good alternative.
For the performance, the cosmic jazz giant is joined by the full Arkestra, who packed into the now-shuttered 200-seat club opened by Newport Jazz Festival founder, George Wein, in 1976 as a successor to his Boston jazz outpost. Their set pivots hard from the winding, improv-heavy arrangements the group and its far-out frontman had grown notorious for by 1977. Instead of the avant-garde, Sun and the band run through some of their original compositions, but lean on a handful of standards, recalibrating the timeless work of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Jack King, and Rodgers-Hammerstein, in a swing-loaded and era-blurring hour-and-a-half performance.
Unity arrives on the heels of a year ripe with Sun Ra reissues and unearthed recordings, including both volumes of The Solar Myth Approach, the 1970 live show released in two parts as Nuits De La Fondation Maeght, and the entrancing 1980 solo performance at Haverford College, which previously made the rounds as a sought after bootleg before it was officially released this year.
Hear Sun Ra and The Arkestra rework the arrangements of jazz royalty on Unity below. Hold tight for more archival excavations to surface in the weeks and months ahead. At this rate, another drop should be arriving any moment now.
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