For me, part of the fascination with this music is seeing the evolution of Sun Ra’s name. The earliest chart, from December 1936
Allan Chase clarifies the Mystery: "Paper copies of most of these, and some not here, appeared somewhat mysteriously, unsolicited, in two large packages in the mailboxes of some known Sun Ra researchers and aficionados, including me, I believe in the late 1990s. I’m pretty sure it was after the Szwed bio and Robert Campbell discographies were published, and I know it was well after my 1992 MA thesis on Sun Ra’s music. Not sure of the legalities involved! These are mostly sketch scores prepared for copyright documentation; for example, to save fees, he would present groups of discrete compositions as “suites” so several could be copyrighted for one fee. The notes that are there are accurate, as far as I can see — most of the Sun Ra pieces are in his own hand, and he was meticulous — but not all the parts or harmonizations are there, and we know from one video and one CD that he dictated and changed harmony parts in rehearsal, as well as writing them. Some of these are confusing: “Shadow World” doesn’t resemble the recorded versions, to my knowledge — correct me if I’m wrong. “Advice to Medics” seems to include Sun Ra’s own transcription of his improvisation, far more detail than needed for copyright, and it’s a solo Wurlitzer piece (speeded up on record — goes above range of Wurly, as my student Eric Lane noticed.) “Space Loneliness” suite seems to be missing here, and contains many of the great tunes of the time. But there are some tunes here I didn’t have, by others (Richard Evans, for ex.). I could go on…Thanks!I received my own copy from a wishes-to-be-anonymous source about ten or fifteen years ago, a precious brown-paper wrapped package of deep esoteric wisdom I've been pondering ever since, and likewise studying the evolution in Sun Ra's charts, but also constantly amazed at how complete his conception had been even from the very start of the Arkestra.
And now here they are, at long last, out in the open air. Let the wild rumpus begin!