Produced by Ross Murray and Rory Magill
What the critics are saying:
"Billed to Rake-Star, this album is in fact the follow-up to Rake's debut CD released by Spool in 2000. And it marks a giant leap forward for the trio. Then again, Some Ra is a special project. Recorded live in Ottawa (Canada) on April 6, 2003, it features a 16-piece big band version of Rake paying tribute to the Sun Ra Arkestra. The group includes a dancer and a singer, and judging from the pictures in the booklet, the event was as colorful and raucous as Sun Ra's genuine concerts. The set list includes plenty of Sun Ra's compositions, alongside original tunes mostly penned by Rake's leader and the mastermind behind this project, trombonist Rory Magill. The group comprises talented musicians, for the most part unknown outside the Ottawa area. The horn line is crowded, so is the double-bass section (three). Other instruments include an accordion, a guitar, and singer Gaby Warren, who delivers a sweet-and-sour rendition of "I Dream Too Much," the disc's weak point. The group sound is thin on percussion, but that doesn't really have an impact on the energy of the music. The group's originals sit very well with Sun Ra's classics, and the arrangements are respectful of the spirit of the Arkestra. Highlights include the medley "Somewhere in Space/Angels and Demons at Play," where trumpeter Clyde Forsberg delivers a Lester Bowie-esque solo, and the medley "Cobalt/Satellites Are Spinning," the first piece being penned by sax player David Broscoe and serving as a delightfully spacy introduction. "Journey to Rakestar/Love in Outer Space" also provides a wonderful moment, thanks to creative arrangements and a good groove. Sound quality is very fine: the ensemble is spread across the stereo spectrum; each instrument is easy to isolate. Fans of Sun Ra should definitely investigate -- this is not just another tribute, it's a pretty fine one, and coming from a little-known jazz scene."
François Couture, All About Jazz.
"Rake-Star nails the Ra mantra-approach with their huge sound. The band is heavy on the bottom end and the reeds suggest floating in a zone removed from earth's gravitational pull. Even though the listener can't see the dancer, this live recording is reminiscent of a Sun Ra performance filled with theatrical and musical spectacle.
Laurence Svirchev, Coda
Were he still a resident of this plane of existence, the former Mr. Blount would likely be pleased by the rampant adulation on display in these consistently entertaining sounds.
Derek Taylor, Cadence
Some like it hot and some like it cool. Me, I like it both ways. Enter Rake-star, a local sixteentet who pay tribute to master jazz and funk wizard Sun Ra and have manages to translate their vivid live shows onto an exclusively aural format. Mixing stellar Ra numbers with equally spacey originals, this orchestra concentrates on a bouncy horn versus percussion interplay, resulting in a record that sways, dips, teeters, crawls and jumps. 4.5 stars.
John Sekerka, Ottawa Xpress
So this CD, Some Ra, was a nice surprise for this writer: a very good album, it was recorded live in Ottawa, at the Bayou Blues And Jazz Club, on April 6, 2003. Given the excellent quality of the arrangements and the musicians' extended familiarity with the compositions by Sun Ra, I have to stress the limpid sense of proportions that makes it possible for the ensemble to avoid a sense of overcrowding. We always get a clear sense of the relationship between the soloist and the collective, the opening up of the winds' arpeggios, those atmospheres that sound so traditional and yet so daring. Choosing favourite moments in this (more than one-hour long) CD is quite difficult. There's the nice opening of Space Is Still The Place, Pt. III, the nice ensemble and solos (trumpet and tenor sax) of Somewhere In Space/Angels And Demons At Play; also noteworthy are the baritone sax and the basses on Spectrum, the Cobalt/Satellites Are Spinning medley, the whole group on Discipline 33, the closing medley of Don't Do (by trombone player Rory Magill, who reveals himself to be a very good composer) and We Travel The Spaceways.
Beppe Colli, www.CloudsandClocks.net
For an interview with Rory Magill, go to Beppe Colli's great website, www.CloudsandClocks.net.