Sun Ra – That’s How I Feel

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This 1978 session, coming relatively late in Sun Ra’s creative history, is another extraordinary venture into uncharted musical terrain. As the name suggests, it’s a liquid and languid musical state, from the lounge area of Ra’s cosmos, but it can also be resiliently funky and subtly dissonant in ways unheard outside the orchestra’s precincts. The rhythm section of electric bass, two guitars, and three drummers creates deep pulsing grooves for Sun Ra’s assortment of ethereal organs and synthesizers and a horn complement of two trumpets and five reeds that are used sparingly for maximal effect. There are some elements of commercial crossover funk and even Miles Davis’s electric period, but this is highly original music, an acid jazz prototype in which groove and electronica intersect with muted brass and a heady assortment of reeds and percussion. Sudden squiggles of funk guitar mix with strong improvisation from Sun Ra and his regular soloists, like saxophonists John Gilmore and Marshall Allen, who are always ready to bend the music into some new pitch zone. The lyrical title track bears a resemblance to Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” and “There Are Other Worlds” is supplemented by overdubbed “Ethnic Voices” and additional percussion and electronics, creating an eerily engaging tapestry. Recorded in a New York studio with the sound further improved by Evidence, this is unusually well recorded for Sun Ra music of the period, a warm bath in music both lush and exotic. –Stuart Broomer (