Mike Huckaby’s top 10 Sun Ra inspirations

Detroit-born Mike Huckaby is famed not just for his production, but also through educating younger generations through regular tutorials and workshops in sound design. From the birthplace of techno, he has forged a path as a premium selector as well as a producer, having released on labels like Sushitech Records and his own SYNTH and Deep Transportation imprints. Also very close to his heart is the work of Afrofuturist pioneer Sun Ra, whose work he has edited over two albums, so we wanted to go a bit deeper and find out his favourite examples of Sun Ra-inspired music.

Mike Huckaby releases his new Shifting Gears EP on Half Baked, due out 15th April. Catch him in London for the launch party on Easter Sunday, alongside Point G, DJ Qu and Dan Ghenacia.

Mike Huckaby’s top 10 Sun Ra inpsirations

“The delight you get from listening to Sun Ra comes from his ability to resolve his chords in his piano playing.  His orientation to the piano scale is quite unique, and it is questionable if it surpasses another musician.  Sun Ra had the ability to introduce a wide range of emotion in his piano playing. In his chord progressions, he would generally start off playing, and then introduce a sense of calamity, disaster, and madness, which then would be resolved beautifully, with a sense of peacefulness and beauty. The average listener may not know that, but it’s what Sun Ra was good at.”

Mtume Umoja Ensemble – ‘Utamu’ 

This has to be the most revered spiritual jazz LP in the genre.  ‘Utamu’, and ‘Alkebu-lan’ from the LP are simply works of art. Be careful, because this LP has not been repressed, and an original copy is gong to cost you at least $150 – this is expensive S**T!

Pharoah Sanders – ‘Upper Egypt’

There is something special to observe about the intrinsic energy between Lonnie Liston Smith and Pharoah Sanders while they are playing together. They compliment each other very well, and have produced many jazz classics. ‘Upper Egypt’ is definitely of of my favorite compositions, including both musicians.

Juju (Oneness of Juju) – ‘Struggle (Home)’

The first three minutes of this track is the most significant part to me.  The piano playing is simply astonishing. I can only describe it by paralleling it to the biblical scripture, 2 Thessalonians 2:8 where it describes that the evil force shall be consumed by the brightness of  Christ coming. The brilliance of this piano playing in this composition summons up that emotion from me.

Doug Carn – ‘Trance Dance’

Doug Carn is a hero of mine.  He was cool when it wasn’t even cool to be cool.  He’s a brilliant jazz player, with many jazz LPs under his belt.  ‘Trance Dance’ is one of my favourite compositions by him.

Sun-Ra – The Mike Huckaby Reel-To-Reel Edits Vol 2

I am pretty lucky to have edited Sun Ra recordings for an official release, I have to say.  The label handed me over very bad and severely depredated versions of these songs.  I heard something in them, and restored them to wonderful edited versions.  I put in a lot of work on ‘To The Natures God’, and ‘Space is the Place For You’ !

This version of ‘Space is the Place’ was simply discarded by the label as trash.  It was a live distorted take of musicians chanting “space is the place”  I am proud to say that I turned it into a complete composition, with out the artifacts.

Lonnie Liston Smith – ‘Sais’

This is a Lonnie Liston discovery of latter times for me.  I am happy to discover ‘Sais’, in any case.  No one can take you on a cosmic, meditative journey like Lonnie Liston Smith can.  This track is highly revered as one of my favorite Lonnie Liston Smith tracks of all times.

Tenorio Jr. – ‘Nebulosa’

A brilliant jazz composition all under an incredible two minutes in total.  Tenorio Jr. packs a lot of wonderful things into this very short composition. When you listening, you forget about the short length of this composition and simply enjoy the music. Most people know it from appearing on Masters At Work’s Brazilian Beat release. An original copy of this on vinyl can set you back $500!

Sun Ra  – ‘Intrinsic Energies’

This is probably one of my top five Sun Ra compositions, and Sun Ra LPs of all times.  It is packed with a couple of other goodies on it too. Simply a brilliant offering from Sun Ra during his heavy experimentation with electronic synthesizer during the 1970’s.  It’s just a Sun Ra thang, I hope you can understand.

Return To Forever – ‘Sorceress’

Taken from the Romantic Warrior LP, this cut has many valleys and tempo changes throughout the track to express itself.  It contains some of the finest jazz musicians you could ever think of having on one record.  This is simply a brilliant song.  There are many parts in this song to get hooked on!

Neon Phusion  – ‘Destination’

I don’t know whether to revere the entire LP or this single track.  This LP is sort of the broken beat bible of that movement.  This entire LP is highly regarded and full of wicked drum programming, sick piano chords and wonderful melodies. I was turning people on to this LP left and right when I was still working in a record shop.  This is for music lovers.

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