Jazz in Silhouette

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Jazz in Silhouette
Studio album by Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Released May 1959 (1959-05)
Recorded March 6, 1959
Studio El Saturn Studio, Chicago[1]
Genre Jazz
Length 44:09
Label Saturn, Impulse!, Evidence
Producer Alton Abraham
Sun Ra and his Arkestra chronology
The Nubians of Plutonia
Jazz in Silhouette
Sound Sun Pleasure!!

Jazz in Silhouette is a jazz album by Sun Ra and His Arkestra. It was recorded on March 6, 1959 and released in May of the same year.[1] The album was recorded in Chicago during a session that also included the whole of Sound Sun Pleasure!! and "Interstellar Low Ways" from the album of the same name. The album is considered to be one of Ra's best from his Chicago period before veering off into 'full-fledged explorations into the avant-garde' [2] that characterises the recordings made in New York City in the 1960s.

Jazz in Silhouette stands as an overlooked masterpiece, a work that shows Ra not as a mere curiosity or backwater galaxy, but as a major creative force in the jazz universe, a center of gravity around which many of jazz's major developments have orbited. This album simply inspires, no matter what perspective you adopt: rhythm, melody, ensemble or mood...Jazz in Silhouette shows Ra doing what he did like few others: looking at the past, present and future simultaneously while maintaining a unified musical direction...what results is a captivating set of music that not only firmly establishes Ra in the jazz tradition, but actually puts him on its leading edge, pointing the direction forward.

— Mathew Wuethrich[3]

Recorded in 1959 at El Saturn Studio, Chicago, the album is one of three records that the Arkestra released in the 1950s, the other two being Jazz by Sun Ra and Super-Sonic Jazz. Originally released in a simple silk-screened cover credited to HP Corbissero,[1] the album had gained its sci-fi cover, 'of half-naked women teleporting themselves over one of the moons of Saturn', credited to 'Evans' [1] by the early 1960s. The album was reissued by Impulse in 1974, and released on CD by Evidence in 1992.

When originally released, the album's sides were reversed, starting with Hours After at the beginning of side one, and ending side two with Ancient Aiethopia. Enlightenment in particular was to become a staple of the Arkestra's concerts, often featuring chanted lyrics.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[4]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[5]
All About Jazz (?)[6]

The Penguin Guide to Jazz selected this album as part of its suggested "Core Collection" and awarded it a "crown" accolade, stating "This marvellous record will one day be recognised as one of the most important jazz records since the war."[7]

Track listing[edit]

12" Vinyl[edit]

Tracks written by Sun Ra, except where noted
Side A: (originally Side B)

  1. "Enlightenment" (Hobart Dotson, Ra) – (5:02)
  2. "Saturn" – (3:37)
  3. "Velvet" – (3:18)
  4. "Ancient Aiethopia" – (9:04)

Side B: (originally Side A)

  1. "Hours After" (Ra, Everett Turner) – (3:41)
  2. "Horoscope" – (3:43)
  3. "Images" – (3:48)
  4. "Blues at Midnight" – (11:56)

For some years the record was believed to have been recorded in 1958, until the musicologist and discographer Robert Campbell uncovered the original tape box, clearly dated March 6, 1959. The album's release was mentioned a few months later in the Chicago Defender of June 9 (Sun Ra Discs Hit Album!).[1]



External links[edit]