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From solo piano to languid big band, straight-up disco to full-on bananas "disco," Sun Ra had a wide 1970s output. (Courtesy of the artist)

Sun Ra's '70s: From Solo Piano To Disco

by Jeff Golick
May 31, 2011

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Just a little more than 97 years ago, Sun Ra arrived on our planet. While here, he became probably the single most recorded jazz musician of all time. With more than 1,000 tunes to his credit, a "Take Five" is perhaps the height of folly. And yet here we are.

In order to take the subject down to a more manageable level, and to shine a light on a period of Sun Ra's career that is typically less celebrated, we're focusing on the third decade of the Arkestra's existence, and selected five tunes from the 1970s. We chose songs that reflect the super-wide range of sounds and approaches that Sun Ra generated during this period — from solo piano to languid big band, and from straight-up disco to full-on bananas "disco."

This rich assortment of sounds and tones provides further evidence, if any was still needed, that the 1970s hold jazz treasures that go well beyond Weather Report. This decade wasn't an endpoint for Sun Ra, who continued to churn out exceptional music through the 1980s; see this post for evidence of that. We hope you'll enjoy this cosmic ear candy from the musician from Saturn.

Jeff Golick and Jeff Jackson run Destination: OUT, a jazz blog for rare and out-of-print material.

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