I’ve mentioned before that I love the music of Sun Ra. I think of him as something of an “adjacent-universe Duke Ellington”, and he probably would have been delighted with that description. There are some close parallels between Sun Ra (born Herman Blount) and Ellington; he was an accomplished pianist with a deep knowledge of ragtime and church music, but made his name mostly as a composer for jazz orchestra; his music was often tailored to the musical strengths and personalities of individual band members, and many of those collaborators stayed with the band for decades; he was always writing and rewriting music on the fly, and it’s sometimes hard to know how much of a Sun Ra piece is improvised and how much is preconceived. Even though he used to travel with suitcases full of sheet music, portions of a Sun Ra Arkestra concert would be open to group improvisation and experimentation. I recommend John Szwed’s biography Space is the Place if you want to learn more about a unique American icon.
This song comes from one of Sun Ra’s early studio albums, and it’s reminiscent of a lot of the popular music from the big band era. Still, it has a few harmonic quirks that give it a more modern flavor.