Sun Ra & His Solar Arkestra - Magic City LP
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"This landmark album, now being reissued in a definitive stereo edition, marks the debut of the new Cosmic Myth Records label. Cosmic Myth plans to reissue Sun Ra's Saturn Records catalog titles under official license from Sun Ra LLC, comprised of the heirs of Sun Ra. Sun Ra albums like The Magic City prove the categorical futility of 'File Under: Jazz.' When assessing the post-Chicago (1960-on) work of Ra, 'jazz' turns out to be less a genre than a journalistic and marketing convenience. Jazz has a glorious tradition. Sun Ra was schooled in it, emerged from it, and grew to transcend it (though he never abandoned it). Even the cheeky term 'Space Jazz' cannot frame the extremes to which Ra pushed his art in the mid-1960s. In this regard, The Magic City was a pinnacle. 1965 was a turbulent year for the Arkestra and its leader, and many consider The Magic City a flashpoint for that upheaval. Arkestra drummer Tommy Hunter, quoted in John Szwed's 1997 Ra bio Space is the Place, describes a typical performance of the period: 'It was like a fire storm coming off the bandstand.' On the original 1965 The Magic City LP, issued on Saturn, the monster 27-1/2 minute title track sprawled across side A. The 'Magic City' to which Ra refers was his birthplace -- Birmingham, Alabama. The term was the town's motto, emblazoned on a billboard by the train station near Sunny's childhood home, intended to reflect the city's explosive growth as a Southern industrial epicenter after the discovery of iron ore, coal, and limestone deposits. Birmingham was a place about which Sun Ra felt and expressed ambivalence: an outpost of racial segregation and grim smokestack-pocked landscapes, yet a city for which he felt twinges of nostalgia and affection. (His heirs still live in the area.) Ra customarily supervised the Arkestra's improvisational process via keyboard cues or hand signals. He was always in charge -- hence critic Simon Adams describing the title track as '27 minutes of controlled freedom.' 'The Magic City' was never performed in concert; saxophonist John Gilmore said it was 'unreproducible, a tapestry of sound.' Although shorter in scope than side A's magnum opus, the four works on The Magic City's flip side reflect the same improvisational approach, spatiality, and lack of structure. One session outtake, 'Other Worlds,' an alternate version of 'Shadow World,' is included as a bonus track on side B. For this definitive edition, historical and technical liner notes are provided by noted jazz historian Ben Young, who restored and remastered the album with his Triple Point Records partner Joe Lizzi. Both men have been recognized for their extensive work on the Grammy Nominated Albert Ayler boxset, released on John Fahey's Revenant records in 2005."