Mixing it up -- including well-known standards alongside his original compositions -- was one of Ra's favorite tactics. His version of "Take the 'A' Train" begins in a traditional mode before turning into distant thunder heard from open city windows. At times, though, the disc is burdened with excessive embellishment. "Outer Spaceways Inc." sounds repetitive, with little actually occurring in the way of dramatic improvisation. Ra's impetuousness gets the best of him on "Honeysuckle Rose," where he loses himself inside endless ornamentation. Overall, this album's strength is in its fresh performances of familiar material. Hearing many of these songs on solo piano is gratifying, although not revelatory, and for Sun Ra followers, it's worth the price of the disc.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.