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These two albums catch Sun Ra and his Arkestra performing with otherworldly experimental zeal.
There has always been some controversy revolving around Sun Ra, but few of his albums ever generated more discussion than Cosmic Tones For Mental Therapy, which covers half the 12 numbers on this two-LP, single-disc outing. Ra played "astro space organ," and the array of swirling tones, funky licks and smashing rhythms, aided and abetted by John Gilmore on bass clarinet, Marshall Allen on oboe, and arrangements that sometimes had multiple horns dueling in the upper register and other times pivoting off careening beats, outraged those in the jazz community who thought Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane had already taken things too far.
Sun Ra (born Herman Poole Blount, legal name Le Sony'r Ra; May 22, 1914 in Birmingham, Alabama – May 30, 1993 in Birmingham, Alabama) was a jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his "cosmic philosophy," musical compositions and performances.
Claiming that he was of the "Angel Race" and not from Earth, but from Saturn, Sun Ra developed a complex persona of "cosmic" philosophies and lyrical poetry that made him a pioneer of afrofuturism as he preached awareness and peace above all.
From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led "The Arkestra" (a deliberate re-spelling of "orchestra"), an ensemble with an ever-changing lineup and name (it was also called "The Solar Myth Arkestra", "His Cosmo Discipline Arkestra", the "Blue Universe Arkestra", "The Jet Set Omniverse Arkestra", and many other permutations; Sun Ra asserted that the ever-changing name of his ensemble reflected the ever-changing nature of his music.) His mainstream success was limited, but Sun Ra was a prolific recording artist and frequent live performer, Sun Ra's music ranged from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians; his music touched on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz; he was also a pioneer of electronic music, space music, and free improvisation, and was one of the first musicians, regardless of genre, to make extensive use of electronic keyboards.
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