There has been something captivating about the spirituality and otherworldliness that comes from jazz music. The raw passion that goes into forming the strange key signatures and different time bars where consistency is sometimes the only thing lacking from the genre. With Le Sony’r Ra, who is better known by his composing name of Sun Ra, the experimental and cosmic stylists that was more theater than musician.
The theatrics glaze through on Fate in a Pleasant Mood almost as if it was gentle sunshine through a diffused window. The way that the light is refracted and displayed through the black and white cover where Sun Ra is prolific and distinguished in his appearance. As he dawns a kufi-esque headwear, the distorted rays of light are almost comparable to that of his name which has some underlying relation to the Egyptian God of the Sun, also called Ra.
As the music materializes on Fate in a Pleasant Mood, Sun Ra seems to command his band like a waving and always-adapting ocean of sound. With Sun Ra on the piano, he recruits a plethora of musicians to bring the first track, “The Others in Their World” to a culmination of smooth jazz. With John Gilmore on the tenor sax, clarinet, and even percussion, there is Ronnie Boykins on the bass. Phil Cohran takes a stance on the trumpet and cornet which both have detrimental pieces of the puzzle to Fate in a Pleasant Mood. Marshall Allen delivers on the alto sax, flute, and bells with George Hudson right with him on the trumpet. Finally, Eddy Skinner and Jon Hardy perform on the drums as Nate Pryor brings a wall of power with his trombone and bell styling.
The shadows’ of authenticity flow over Sun Ra’s performances where he coincides within the band, working to form overarching tracks of fairly shorter length for traditional jazz pieces. With eight-total-tracks and a run time of 30-minutes, Fate in a Pleasant Mood is graceful in the first apparitions of what is to come. As the time passes, the band begins to pick up steam with a segueing drum solo performance on “Space Mates” which transitions into a livelier and unforgiving crash of noise.
With the push that becomes “Kingdom of Thunder” where Fate in a Pleasant Mood reaches past the midpoint and becomes more approachable as a jazz standard. The progressive movements are capturing and the beat is sampling heaven where the wind instruments are four-star generals that are essentially instructing the other instruments to follow in a charge formation with percussive support coming up as a blockade. They continue until stopping dead in the tracks to use a quick drum march technique and then fall back into formation.
As Sun Ra finally begins to unwind and reach the final cosmos, Fate in a Pleasant Mood is simply astounding. The way that the band can group together and weave all the individuality of the instruments into one both blitzing and attached sound is stylish and adaptable. From the calming sea breezes to the combative marches, Fate in a Pleasant Mood has a purpose behind every piece of the grander puzzle.