1977 was a transitional time for jazz enigma and self-proclaimed member of an “angel race“, Sun Ra. During the Summer of 1976, he had stormed Montreux and toured West Africa with one of the greatest of his full-sized Arkestras before embarking on occasional solo concerts for the first time, emphasising his prowess at the piano. Although he had always played the blues within Arkestra sets, he now summoned up the rolling tradition of blues piano, recalling Otis Spann, Avery Parrish, stride and ricky-tick styles.
He made two solo albums for Paul Bley’s Improvising Artists label (’Solo Piano’ and ’St. Louis Blues’) before travelling to Rome. For the concert, featured here, Ra brought in drummer Luqman Ali, who had been part of the Arkestra during the band’s early Chicago years, and vocalist Thomas Thaddeus aka Eddie Thomas. Thomas was a percussionist, dancer and “incense dude“ with the Arkestra throughout the late ‚70s period. He would appear again on Ra’s ’Lanquidity’ album for Philly Jazz in ’79.
During this intimate concert, Ra takes us through piano and synthesizer renditions of Arkestra staples like ’Love In Outer Space’, ’Space Is The Place’ and ’Calling Planet Earth’ but also explores a selection of jazz standards. Among them, we hear the first ever released Ra version of the 1930s staple ’I Cover The Waterfront’ alongside a dissonant version of ’Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child’ and ’St. Louis Blues’. Ra’s ties to Italy would continue the following year as he recorded three acclaimed albums for Horo Records, run by filmmaker turned label owner, Aldo Sinesio.
Following 2014’s Marshall Allen compilation, ’In the Orbit Of Ra’ and 2015’s Gilles Peterson-curated ’To Those Of Earth... And Other Worlds’, Strut and Art Yard join forces once more for the first release anywhere of ’In Some Far Place: Roma ’77’. Recorded direct from the sound board and mastered from first generation reel to reel tapes, this is one of the very few trio albums by Sun Ra ever to be released and is exclusively available for Record Store Day 2015. The release features rare photos from recently deceased photographer H.L. Lindenmaier with sleeve notes by the Sun Ra Arkestra’s Knoel Scott.