Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra - When Sun Comes Out (1963), 8/10

When Sun Comes Out stands as one of Sun Ra's most diverse, endearing, and often overlooked works. The record showcases the multifaceted nature of Sun Ra's musical vision, traversing different styles and genres with remarkable ease. The first side of the album presents Sun Ra's classic compositions and playing, heavily influenced by Ellington's playing and style. It exudes a sense of sophistication and elegance, blending intricate arrangements with virtuosic performances. Sun Ra pays homage to his influences while infusing his unique touch, creating a sound that is unmistakably his own. The latter half, on the other hand, takes a daring turn towards free jazz, marking one of the earliest recordings of the genre, following Ornette Coleman's groundbreaking ventures into free improvisation. The performances on this side are electric, charged with energy, perhaps even madness, and imbued with a soulful quality that sets them apart not only from his earlier work but of any work of the era. The band fearlessly embraces the avant-garde, pushing the boundaries of conventional jazz and exploring new sonic territories. The album's opener, "Circe," sets a spiritual tone, featuring a captivating performance by Theda Barbara and the ambient percussion work of Clifford Jarvis. The band effortlessly transitions into the epic arrangement of "The Nile," a composition that showcases Sun Ra's compositional prowess and provides a glimpse into his expansive musical universe. Additionally, the previously unreleased part 2 of "The Nile" offers an additional stellar experience worth exploring. "Brazilian Sun" sees Sun Ra delving into his signature 'Saturn' style of improvisation, accompanied by Jarvis' droning, tribal percussion, creating a mesmerizing landscape. The album further captivates with tracks like "We Travel the Spaceways," which injects a sense of chanted spiritual insanity, and "Calling Planet Earth" and "Dancing Shadows," which embrace gloriously frantic free jazz improvisations. When Sun Comes Out represents a significant leap forward for Sun Ra and his Arkestra, marking their unhinged exploration into the avant-garde realm with fervor and innovation. The album showcases Sun Ra's generally visionary approach to music throughout, incorporating diverse influences and pushing the boundaries of traditional jazz. The result is a timeless piece of music that continues to captivate with its intensity, atmosphere, and unwavering sense of adventure that he would continue to explore on records such as Atlantis. A foundational and essential piece of jazz performance and composition.