Album of the Week // 2–6 November

“We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration. We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.”

Cover artwork by Lewis Heriz

The mighty Sun Ra Arkestra, under the direction of the maestro Marshall Allen, have released their first studio album in over 20 years, entitled Swirling.

Recorded at Rittenhouse Soundworks in Philadelphia, the new recording represents the continuation of a heartfelt rebirth of the Arkestra under Allen’s guidance since Sun Ra left the planet in 1993, gaining new generations of followers from their regular worldwide tours. The big band line-up features long-standing Arkestra members Danny Ray Thompson, Michael Ray, Vincent Chancey, Knoel Scott, Cecil Brooks, Atakatune, Elson Nascimento and Tyler Mitchell — it’s a full-blooded celebration of Sun Ra’s legacy produced by Jim Hamilton.

Sun Ra Arkestra in 1971 (Jan Persson)

The album is peppered with new arrangements of Arkestra staples like ‘Angels And Demons At Play’, ‘Satellites Are Spinning’, ‘Door Of The Cosmos’ and ‘Rocket №9’ alongside some lesser-known gems. One of these is ‘Darkness’, recorded here for the first time having been resurrected from the Ra archives by Marshall Allen. Other highlights include a new version of ‘Seductive Fantasy’ (first recorded on Ra’s On Jupiter LP in 1979), the freeform sonic blast of ‘Infinity / I’ll Wait For You’ and a first ever recording of the Marshall Allen swing composition, ‘Swirling’.

Saxophonist Knoel Scott says: “We truly hope that this recording brings much joy to a planet which is so deeply in need of a spirit sound and vibration. We hope it contributes to a change in the ominous direction of man’s journey through the cosmos.” Marshall Allen continues: “This new release is the Arkestra’s love offering to the world, better music for a better world.”

Sun Ra Arkestra’s Swirling is out on Strut across all formats. The album was produced by Jim Hamilton at Rittenhouse Soundworks. Catch tunes from the release all this week on Morning Mari*, every weekday morning 9:00–9:15 GMT.

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