January 1978 was a fruitful month for Sun Ra. As well as days spent in the recording studios in Rome, Sun Ra, along with John Gilmore, Michael Ray and Luqman Ali, played several gigs in Italy before flying back to the US. The magic music from one night in the Teatro Cilak, on January 23rd in Milan, is preserved on Disco 3000. It represents a real pinnacle of creativity, even for this prolific period of the late-70s, when his record output hit a real peak.
On Disco 3000 you have the chance to hear Sun Ra's music performed by a quartet, rather than his full Arkestra. Ra was joined in Italy by saxophonist John Gilmore, trumpeter Michael Ray and drummer Luqman Ali. Sun Ra himself played piano and electronic keyboards, including a Crumar Mainman. The sparse instrumentation is based on extraordinary and worthy contrasts. The recognizable tunes do include one rare Ra composition ("Third Planet"), as well as the traditional "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" thinly disguised as "Dance of the Cosmo‐Aliens."
This whole Sun Ra quartet project from Italy in early 1978 has a particular 'experimental' feel, unique in a particular way in the enigmatic artist's huge and varied recorded output. Innovation is hardly unexpected from Sun Ra ‐ his music regularly pushes the envelope. However, this project represents a tryout for a different kind of music altogether, a small‐group music. In the end it was a musical path Sun Ra left unexplored, it has little in the way of precedent or sequel on record. Regardless, Disco 3000 has certainly stood the test of time well.