Sun Ra: Art on Saturn NEW BOOK The Album Cover Art of Sun Ra's Saturn LabelContributors: Sun Ra, Edited by Irwin Chusid, Chris Reisman

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    Drawn from private collections around the world, this is the first comprehensive collection of the Saturn label’s printed record covers, along with hundreds of the best hand-designed, one-of-a-kind sleeves and disc labels decorated by Sun Ra and members of his Arkestra.

    Considered the foremost exponent of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra mastered a wide array of styles that spanned jazz, R&B, exotica, Afro-hybrids, electronic, big band, solo piano, orchestral, experimental, and chamber works. In his 45-year recording career, he issued an epic number of albums and he was one of the first Black musicians to own an independent label, which he named Saturn, after the planet on which he claimed to have been born.

    The covers of Saturn LPs, issued from 1957 to 1988, are iconic—some rolled off commercial printing presses but many were hand-crafted. These records were sold at concerts, club dates, and by mail order. As collectibles, original handmade Saturn covers sell for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. More than just packaging for a slab of vinyl, they are works of art in their own right.

    Sun Ra: Art on Saturn is the first comprehensive collection of all Saturn printed covers, along with hundreds of the best hand-designed, one-of-a-kind sleeves and disc labels, decorated by Ra himself and members of his Arkestra. Essays by Sun Ra catalog preservationist Irwin Chusid, noted Ra scholar John Corbett, and Glenn Jones, who in the 1970s signed Ra to a distribution deal that put countless homemade covers into circulation, add unique insights into the interplanetary life and work of Sun Ra and his Saturn partner Alton Abraham.

    Historians have written extensively about Sun Ra and his music. This book is a tribute to the covers and to the uncredited visual artists and their rich imaginations. From the simple to the baroque to the absurd, the covers that sheathed Ra's discs reflect the tenaciousness of a genius who refused to compromise or relinquish control of his destiny.


    Hardback Book 240 pages

    Full-color illustrations and photos 30.7 cm H | 30.7 cm W | 2.5 cm T



    Le Sony'r Ra, better known as Sun Ra (1914-1993)

    Irwin Chusid is a journalist, music historian, radio personality and self-described landmark preservationist. He has produced landmark reissues of the music of composer/bandleader/electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott, Space Age Pop avatar Esquivel.

    Chris Reisman is a longtime record collector and proprietor of Hudson Valley Vinyl in Beacon, NY.


    “This book contains sacred relics that were heretofore hidden in the personal sanctums of insiders, collectors, and fans who bought a souvenir at a Sun Ra show and kept it. These costumes for Ra grooves are as singular and unforgettable as the Arkestra members’ radiant raiment.” BEN YOUNG

    “Sun Ra’s vision took in multiple arts, beyond music. Art on Saturn catalogs his printed album covers, with their bold Afrofuturistic illustrations, then presents an endless variety of unique LP sleeves handcrafted by Ra and members of the Arkestra.” ROBERT L. CAMPBELL, co-author, The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra

    “Sun Ra was an expert at disruption. The Saturns assembled here confront the world with an inscrutable wash of color and astroBlack iconography. They are a surprisingly underdocumented legacy of this angelic visitant’s campaign to alter destiny.” THOMAS STANLEY, author, The Execution of Sun Ra

    “Another dimension of the Sun Ra story—the art that complements his music and poetry. Saturn Records was groundbreaking, and this book brings out the evolving artistic values of the label and its unique character as a pioneering musician-run enterprise.”

    CHRISTOPHER TRENT, co-author, The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra

    “Those who know Sun Ra’s music expect the unexpected. Ra was out there, a rule breaker, a retro-futurist, an avant-musical P. T. Barnum. These art- drenched album covers are a seldom-seen part of the Ra omniverse.” JOHN SZWED, author, Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra

    “From Secrets of the Sun to Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow, Sun Ra’s fiercely independent label broke new visual ground in album cover imagery. Art on Saturn is a testament to this amazing legacy.” PETER DENNETT, Art Yard Records

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