The first half-dozen cuts on Sound Sun Pleasure (1970) are thought to have been documented between 1958 and 1960, during Sun Ra and his Astro Infinity Arkestra's residency in Chicago. Although Ra's arrangements are as intricate and involved as any from the era, the song list draws heavily upon standards. That said, it might be recommended as a starting point for parties not acclimated to the artist's later and exceedingly aggressive free and avant-garde leanings. Hatty Randolph (vocals) joins the combo for a pair of refined vocals on the covers of "'Round Midnight" and "Back in Your Own Backyard." The Arkestra complement Randolph's full-bodied delivery with such finesse, it is a wonder there isn't evidence of more frequent collaborations like this. She adds a bluesy melancholia that nicely offsets the instrumentation. "You Never Told Me That You Care" — co-written by Ra and Hobart Dotson (trumpet) — stunningly demonstrates Ra's unmatched scoring and superlative sense of melody. The sweeping and languid tempo allows the tune to unravel organically. "Enlightenment" — another co-composition by the pair — is slightly more indicative of Ra's complex approach, as well as the style that would inform his later work, noted by the band's stridency around the comparatively progressive harmonics. When Sound Sun Pleasure was issued on compact disc in 1992, an additional seven selections were included. Chronologically, they are among the earliest known from Sun Ra, recorded at various times and locations between 1953 and 1956, yielding understandably sporadic sound quality. "Deep Purple" — from a session held in Ra's apartment — features contributions by Stuff Smith, while Wilbur Ware (bass) duets on an emotive "Can This Be Love." Arthur Hoyle (trumpet) makes one of his first Arkestra appearances on the bouncy post-bop original "Dreams Come True" that also sports a rare Clyde Williams vocal.
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