"Star Time" and Arkestra with Lucious Randolph

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#1 Wed, 1997-09-17 08:21
Robert L. Campbell
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"Star Time" and Arkestra with Lucious Randolph

Saturnites,

Ed Rhodes and Michael Fitzgerald brought up an interesting question about "Star Time" (from The Nubians of Plutonia) and its relation to "Planet Earth," "Eve," and "Overtones of China" (from Visits Planet Earth).

For a while now, I have been dating "Star Time" 1958, based on the lineup (five saxes, including Charles Davis). Davis was reportedly out of the Arkestra for several months before he went on the road with Dinah Washington. He arrived in New York in 1959.

I don't have any way of telling whether "Star Time" was done at the same rehearsals as the other three, though it could have been.

Here are the constraints:

We have very little from Sun Ra in the first half of 1957. The Hattie Randolph tracks ("Lover Come Back to Me," etc.) and the first Yochannan session ("Hot Skillet Mama") are about it.

In June 1957, James Spaulding arrived. A little later (Fall 1957?), Marshall joined the band. Ronnie Boykins arrived after Marshall, possibly as late as the very beginning of 1958. The Planet Earth tracks were made by this edition of the Arkestra, shortly after it came together. (So was at least the instrumental part of "Black Sky, Blue Moon"). "Star Time" could have been done at the same time, or at some later point, but before Charles Davis split.

It's hard to be more precise because Lucious Randolph started at the beginning of 1957 and was still occasionaly gigging with the Arkestra in 1960 (after Phil Cohran had become the regular trumpeter). Lucious has detailed reminiscences of performing the space chants, which only began in 1959-1960. Spaulding was around till the beginning of 1960.

There seem to have been several versions of the Arkestra in 1958, which was a very busy year, recording-wise. The edition with Hobart Dotson as both lead and solo trumpeter was probably the shortest-lived, but it went into the studio twice, so it's the one we know best. Lucious Randolph remembers a number of gigs with himself and Hobart as the trumpet section. At other times, Bill Fielder and E. J. Turner were in the band. We also have "Great Balls of Fire," with Lucious, and the first "Hours After," with E.J., and these were recorded in 1958.

I'm beginning to suspect that no one remembers the exact lineup from the Indianapolis concert any more. Bill Fielder is the first to put Hobart there. Others (including Al Fielder) put E. J. Turner in the section instead. I'm not saying Bill is wrong, but I am pointing out some divergence in the accounts.

rlc

PS. I found the Shatz piece disappointing, too. His knowledge of the music is superficial. And weird though Sunny was, I can't imagine him encouraging his followers to commit suicide, which is what Marshall Applewhite and many other apocalyptically inclined cult leaders have done. Haven't seen the Philadelphia review yet.

Robert L. Campbell

Professor, Psychology

Brackett Hall 410A

Clemson University

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phone (864) 656-4986

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