Sun Ra and his band (The Intergalactic Solar Arkestra, or whatever other name Sun Ra sees fit for them at the time) have cranked out some amazing space jazz music over the years. His early works from the 1950's are more straightforward, lean, mean, clean, and vibrant futuristic space jazz. His later works from the early to mid 1960's and on through the 1970's are frighteningly beautiful, mind blowing free jazz/space music and psychedelia suited for a millennium that has yet to come. There is a movie from the 1970's called "Space Is the Place" about his work from this highly adventurous time period that I will review soon.
Today, however, I want to focus on an early release of his, the traditional yet futuristically charged double album "Sun Ra Visits Planet Earth/Interstellar Low Ways"(1956). This is, like I said, a more traditional work, but at the same time it is a vibrant, tuneful, meditating and dark...exploring the realms of outer and inner space while staying within the confines (and joyously bending them at the same time) of traditional jazz music. Not nearly as out there as Sun Ra's later material, it is still a warming, campy, futuristic masterpiece, and the best place to start if you want to get into Sun Ra. It is the first Sun Ra CD I bought, and it remains my personal favorite of his.
Here's "Saturn" and "Rocket Number Nine". Enjoy.
Saturn - Sun Ra
Rocket Number Nine - Sun Ra