Sun Ra (featuring John Gilmore): Future




Sun Ra (piano)


Sun Song (Delmark 411)

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Sun Ra (piano), John Gilmore (tenor sax),

Dave Young, Art Hoyle (trumpets), Julian Priester (trombone), James Scales (alto sax), Pat Patrick (baritone sax), Wilburn Green (electric guitar), Richard Evans (bass), Bob Barry (drums), Jim Hearndon (tympani)


Composed by Sun Ra


Recorded: Chicago, IL, July 12, 1956


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

For some 40 years, from 1953 to Sun Ra's death in 1993, tenorist John Gilmore was primarily a devoted and key member of Ra's various orchestral incarnations. When you went out to a club to hear Ra, you hoped that Gilmore was going to get a generous amount of solo space, for he was always arguably the best musician on the bandstand. Considered an influence on Coltrane, Gilmore's tenor could either heartily negotiate the intricate changes of a hard-bop tune, or explode into a no-holds-barred free jazz excursion. Perhaps this wide diversity of musical opportunities is what most appealed to Gilmore about playing with Sun Ra, and kept his few departures over the years relatively brief.

Gilmore is featured on "Future," a track from what was Ra's first album to receive relatively wide distribution (not self-released as was so much of his output). Ra's rubato piano intro mixes wisps of classical influence with phrasing similar to what one would hear from Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill in the "future." He suddenly goes into overdrive with a swinging boppish interlude, and then the horns introduce a tensely churning staccato theme. Gilmore enters an open space with a robust fill, to which the other horns respond with a spirited vamp. Gilmore's solo is an authoritative hard-bop statement, played with a brawny Wardell Gray-type of sound, and exhibiting the technical facility and buoyancy of a Johnny Griffin. A vigorous call and response between Gilmore and the band concludes one of Sun Ra's early gems.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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