Monorails and Satellites from 1966 comes next, representing a Sun Ra who is lost in space. Unencumbered by his less-interstellar band mates, this solo exploration begins with two-fisted Martian stomps and devolves into pounding odes to a Utopia off in the dissonance. Only in "Easy Street" and bits of "Skylight" does he look back over his shoulder at the Forties ballads he once played on planet Earth.

But from two years later comes the straightahead Arkestra outing Holiday for Soul Dance, where Ra plays solid swing and only occasionally pokes through with a demented piano chord.

Though dedicated to Ra's music, Jerry Gordon is reluctant to resign himself to the sometimes unintelligible philosophy of a man known to say, "Some call me Mister Ra, others call me Mystery, you can call me Mister Mystery."

"The things he says are just to get you going," says Gordon after some thought. "To get you thinking. Sun Ra is a master showman and musician, and everyone appreciates that."

ONE KEYBOARD DESERVES ANOTHER... v9-23-92

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