Sun Ra ‎– Somewhere Over The Rainbow (1977/2018 Live Album)

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As live, late-1970s Sun Ra albums go, Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a cut above. It’s similar to and contemporaneous with The Soul Vibrations of Man and Taking a Chance on Chances, two live sets also issued on Saturn in 1977 (and available in our digitally remastered download catalog).

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Saturn 7877) was also known as We Live to Be: the titles of track one on side A were often handwritten on labels and/or generic sleeves, a common practice in Saturn’s DIY packaging process.

Tape was not available, but we worked from a solidly transferred, clean 1977 Saturn original. As with many limited-release Saturn pressings, Somewhere Over the Rainbow offers exciting performances and solos preserved with dollar-store acoustics. Audio restoration can’t add what the gear didn’t capture—e.g., you can’t “remix” the balance of instruments recorded with ad hoc mic placement—but these tracks here benefit from digital cleanup and sonic improvements (including phase correction, an essential fix to a number of marginal Saturn releases).

The release alternates four Sun Ra originals with three Tin Pan Alley standards. It was during the 1970s that Sun Ra began peppering his sets with Big Band-era standards, especially titles originally recorded by his heroes Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington.

Of particular note in this set is “I’ll Wait for You,” whose throbbing disco pulse prefigures by one year the jackhammer thrust of Ra’s 1978 gem Lanquidity. (More on the repertoire and instruments by Ra authority Bro. Cleve below.)

The set was recorded at the Bluebird in Bloomington, Indiana. The discographic Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra (by Robert Campbell and Christopher Trent, 2nd ed. 2000) notes: “Michael Weiss says that the Arkestra played two nights at the Bluebird; each night consisted of two 3-hour sets. He recalls that ‘the band paraded around playing “Lights on a Satellite” like on the Montreux album’. [Two] dancers were identified from two local newspaper accounts. These articles say there were 18 people in the band, and imply the presence of Pat Patrick and Vincent Chancey, plus a possible third drummer—none of them audible on these tracks. Weiss, however, is sure that Patrick and Chancey were not present.”

— I.C. (http://bit.ly/2yKKwXX).

Track listing:

[00:00] 1. We Live To Be
Composed By – Sun Ra
[04:46] 2. Gone With The Wind
Composed By – Allie Wrubel, Herb Magidson
[07:34] 3. Make Another Mistake
Composed By – Sun Ra
[11:28] 4. Take The ‘A’ Train
Composed By – Billy Strayhorn
[22:49] 5. Amen Amen (Amen, Meni, Many Amens)
Composed By – Sun Ra
[30:26] 6. Over The Rainbow
Composed By – Yip Harburg, Harold Arlen
[38:00] 7. I’ll Wait For You
Composed By – Sun Ra

Personnel:

Danny Davis, Marshall Allen – alto saxophone, flute, percussion
Danny Ray Thompson – baritone saxophone, flute, percussion
ShooBee Doo [Reginald J. Fields] – bass
Eloe Omoe – bass clarinet fi
James Jacson – bassoon, lute, drum [nfinity drum]
Atakatune – congas, percussion
Luqman Ali [Edward Skinner], Tommy Hunter – drums
Sun Ra – piano, organ, vocals
John Gilmore – tenor saxophone, timbales, vocals
Ahmed Abdullah – trumpet
Akh Tal Ebah – trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals
June Tyson – vocals

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Released: March 13, 2018
Tracks produced by Sun Ra
Vinyl transfer by Timothy Stollenwerk from an original Saturn LP in the collection of Craig Koon
Digital audio restoration by Irwin Chusid
Cover reconstruction by I.C.
Recorded at the Bluebird, Bloomington, IN, around July 18, 1977

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