The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
Studio album by Sun Ra and his Arkestra
Released 1961
Recorded October 10, 1961 Newark, New Jersey [1]
Genre Jazz
Length 41.51
Label Savoy Records
Producer Tom Wilson
Sun Ra and his Arkestra chronology
We Travel the Space Ways
(1956 - 1961)
The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra
Bad and Beautiful
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic (LP) 4/5 stars[2]
The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide 4/5 stars[3]

The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra is an album by the American Jazz musician Sun Ra and his Arkestra, recorded October 10, 1961 for the Savoy label.

The album was produced by Tom Wilson, who would later become famous for producing albums by the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa and Bob Dylan.


The first record to be recorded by a pared-down Arkestra after Sun Ra and the core of his group left Chicago and relocated to New York City. According to Sun Ra's biographer John Szwed:[4]

'The idea was just to play a few gigs, maybe some studio work, and then go back to Chicago and work at the Pershing [club] again. But as soon as they crossed the George Washington Bridge they collided with a taxi and bent one of the wheels of [bassist] Ronnie Boykins's father's car. With no money to have it fixed they were stranded again. [Sun Ra] went to a phone booth and called Ed Bland and Tom Wilson to tell them they were in town, and the band moved into a couple of hotel rooms over the Peppermint Lounge on 45th Street. But after a few days of waiting, Strickland and Mitchell got anxious, called home for money, and left. The five who remained then moved to a room on 81st Street between West End Avenue and Riverside Drive, and after a few days found a cheaper place farther downtown in the seventies.

'Though the band had no luck finding places to play, Tom Wilson came up with a recording session for them with Savoy Records. On October 10 they crossed the river to the Medallion Studio in Newark with a few musicians they added for the date... and they produced a record which could have easily represented their repertoire during an evening at a club there..... Despite a heavy title and a cover painting of a conga drum swirling like a tornado through a valley of piano keys against an orange sky, the record was plagued from the start. Tom Wilson's liner notes were filled with inaccuracies: Distribution was almost as poor as it was with the Saturn records, and there was no reviews for twenty-three years, when it was reissued in 1984 as We Are In The Future.'

Critical reception[edit]

The album is often considered one of the most accessible records in Ra's vast catalogue;

'Sun Ra's only release for the Savoy label is a gem... Ra sticks to acoustic piano for the entire session, but various percussion instruments are dispersed throughout the band, giving a slightly exotic flavor to some of the tunes... With the exception of "The Beginning," all the tunes are very accessible. This is one to play for the mistaken folks who think the Arkestra did nothing but make noise. Excellent.' Sean Westergaard, Allmusic [1]


The sleeve was designed by 'Harvey', a secretive graphic designer who made over 190 album covers for Savoy and its subsidiaries throughout the 1960s;

"Rev. Lawrence Roberts, long-time producer for Savoy Records... said that they never knew the identity of Harvey. Harvey lived in New York, and was very secretive. They would send him a title or concept and he would produce the painting. The paintings were not expensive, and they paid him in cash." [5]


The record was reissued in 1984 as We Are In The Future, but regained its original name when it was issued on Compact Disc in 1994. Savoy reissued it again in 2003, followed by a Lonehill Jazz reissue in 2006.

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Sun Ra except 'China Gate'.
Side A:

  1. Bassism - (4.07)
  2. Of Sounds and Something Else - (2.54)
  3. What's That? - (2.15)
  4. Where is Tomorrow? - (2.50)
  5. The Beginning - (6.29)
  6. China Gate (Victor Young) - (3.25)

Side B:

  1. New Day - (5.51)
  2. Tapestry From An Asteroid - (3.02)
  3. Jet Flight - (3.15)
  4. Looking Outward - (2.49)
  5. Space Jazz Reverie - (4.54)



  1. ^ Robert L. Campbell's Sun Ra Discography
  2. ^ Allmusic (LP) review
  3. ^ Swenson, J. (Editor) (1985). The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide. USA: Random House/Rolling Stone. p. 186. ISBN 0-394-72643-X. 
  4. ^ a b John F Szwed Space Is The Place, Mojo, 2000, p183-6
  5. ^ John Glassburner