Sun Ra and His Arkestra – Jazz in Silhouette

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Jazz in Silhouette is the third studio album by pianist-composer Sun Ra and His Arkestra. It was recorded on March 6, 1959, and released in May of the same year.

“Throughout their mid-to-late-’50s stay in Chicago, Sun Ra (piano) and his Arkestra established themselves as formidable purveyors of a new strain or sub-genre of jazz. Having evolved from elaborate reworkings of familiar standards, Jazz in Silhouette (1959) presents a collection of originals, building upon Ra’s abilities as a consummate multi-tasker — writing, arranging, scoring parts for his band, in addition to performing. He stretches the boundaries of the music to suit the Arkestra, simultaneously progressing his distinct sound. Seminal readings of the quick and complex “Saturn” and “Velvet” are offered with unmatchable dexterity and precision. The latter title comes off like a confused version of “Jeepers Creepers” as Hobart Dotson (trumpet) prominently displays his unquestionable tonality. “Ancient Aiethopia” is one of the more involved works, both in terms of length — running over nine minutes — and the Arkestra’s capacity for Ra’s compositions. “Blues at Midnight” is another expansive (nearly 12 minutes) outing that, by contrast, is for the soloists rather than full ensemble. John Gilmore (tenor sax), Ronnie Boykins (bass), Pat Patrick (baritone sax), and Marshall Allen (alto sax) all shine behind William Cochran’s (drums) solid contributions. Equally significant is the running dialogue Ra maintains during other musicians’ leads, directing the ebb and flow with an uncanny fusion of melody and rhythm. Undoubtedly, this is a factor in the freshness the material retains. It is also a prime example of Ra and company in a transitional phase, prior to their full-fledged explorations into the avant-garde.” – Lindsay Planer/AllMusic.

Track listing:
All tracks are written by Sun Ra except where noted

Side One
1. “Enlightenment” Ra / Hobart Dotson 5:02
2. “Saturn” 3:37
3. “Velvet” 3:19
4. “Ancient Aiethopia” 9:08
Side Two
5. “Hours After” Ra / Everett Turner 3:04
6. “Horoscope” 3:45
7. “Images” 3:50
8. “Blues At Midnight” 11:37

Sun Ra – piano, celeste, gong
Hobart Dotson – trumpet
Pat Patrick – baritone sax, flute, percussion
Charles Davis – baritone sax, percussion
John Gilmore – tenor sax, percussion
William Cochran – drums
Marshall Allen – alto sax, flute
James Spaulding – alto sax, flute, percussion
Ronnie Boykins – bass
Bo Bailey – trombone


Released: May 1959
Recorded: March 6, 1959
Studio: El Saturn Studio, Chicago[1]
Length: 44:09
Label: Saturn, Impulse!, Evidence
Producer: Alton Abraham