Secrets of the Sun

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Secrets of the Sun
Studio album by Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra
Released 1965 [1]
Recorded 1962, New York
Genre Jazz
Label Saturn
Atavistic Records
Producer Alton Abraham
Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra chronology
Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow
Secrets of the Sun
When Sun Comes Out
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
CD Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
All About Jazz (?)[3]

Secrets of the Sun is an album by the American Jazz musician Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra. The album is considered one of the more accessible recordings from his 'Solar' period.[4][5] Originally released on Ra's own Saturn label in 1965, the record was unavailable for many years before being reissued on compact disc by Atavistic in 2008.

'Marking a transition in its development between the advanced swing of the early Chicago-era recordings and the increased free-form experimentation of its New York tenure, this album also reveals the first recorded versions of two Ra standards, "Friendly Galaxy" and "Love in Outer Space." Accessible, yet segueing into vanguard territory, this album highlights a fertile period in the Arkestra's history. Looser and more aggressive than its Chicago recordings, these pieces find the Arkestra pushing at the limits of harmony and tonality.' Troy Collins [5]

Increasing free-form experimentation[edit]

The album is characterised by playful experimentation. Solar Symbols - a duo for percussion - used reverberation techniques that have since been considered an early foray into pure ambient music.[6] Solar Differentials even featured an experimental 'Space Voice';

'Solar Differentials introduced Art Jenkins, a new "Space Vocalist". Jenkins had sought an audition with Sun Ra a few months before the recording, and sang some rhythm-and-blues tunes for him. Sonny told him that he had a nice voice, but what he was looking for was a singer who could do the impossible ("The possible has been tried and failed; now I want to try the impossible"). Art came back one day when they were recording at the Choreographer's Workshop, and dead set on getting on a record somehow, rummaged through a bag of miscellaneous instruments looking for something he could play. But every time he picked up something, someone in the band would tell him to leave it alone. When no one objected when he pulled a ram's horn from the bottom of the bag he began to sing into it, but backwards, with his mouth to the large opening, so that it gave out a weird sound which he made weirder by moving his hand over the small opening to alter the tone. Sonny broke out laughing, "Now that's impossible!" and asked him to improvise wordlessly on the record.' John F Szwed,[6]

When reissued on compact disc, the record came with an extended 17 minute 'soloing tour de force', Flight To Mars.

Track listing[edit]

12" Vinyl[edit]

All songs by Sun Ra
Side A:

  1. "Friendly Galaxy"
  2. "Solar Differentials"
  3. "Space Aura"

Side B:

  1. "Love in Outer Space"
  2. "Reflects Motion"
  3. "Solar Symbols"

CD bonus track[edit]

  1. "Flight to Mars"

Musicians [7][edit]

  • Sun Ra - Harp, Piano, Gong
  • John Gilmore - Space Bird Sounds, Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax, Drums, Percussion
  • Art Jenkins - Space Voice
  • Calvin Newborn - Guitar, Electric Guitar
  • Marshall Allen - Flute, Alto Saxophone, Percussion
  • Pat Patrick - Flute, Baritone Saxophone, Bongos
  • Eddie Gale - Trumpet
  • Al Evans - Flugelhorn
  • Ronnie Boykins - Bass
  • Tommy Hunter - Drums, Tape Effects
  • C. Scoby Stroman - Drums
  • Jimmy Johnson - Percussion

Recorded entirely at the Choreographer's Workshop, New York (the Arkestra's rehearsal space) in 1962 by Tommy Hunter.[1] The same sessions are believed to have also yielded a number of songs released on The Invisible Shield and What's New?, two Saturn albums released a decade later that also contained songs recorded in the 1970s.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Sun Ra's Discography, R Campbell
  2. ^ CD Allmusic review
  3. ^ All About Jazz review
  4. ^ All Music Guide
  5. ^ a b All About Jazz
  6. ^ a b John F Szwed Space is the Place, Mojo, 2000, p192-193
  7. ^ Atavistic Sleeve Notes