Worlds Around the Sun was recorded and issued on Prestige Records in 1972 by Todd Cochran (as Bayeté). Not only did the young keyboardist write all of the material for the album, he also produced and played on it, along with other jazz greats — including a young Bobby Hutcherson on vibes. The combination of jazz and groove, anchored by Cochran’s pumping Rhodes and clavinet, have made Worlds Around the Sun a legend. More than 40 years later, the album has become a holy grail for collectors, with copies fetching unbelievable prices. When copies can be found, that is . . .
On March 11, 2014, Omnivore Recordings will issue the classic album on CD for the first time. To make this release even better, two previously unissued tracks from the sessions have been added as bonus tracks. Adding in rare photos from Cochran’s personal library, as well as an in-depth conversation with Pat Thomas, the author of Listen, Whitey! The Sights and Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975, about the material and the time in which it was recorded, Worlds Around the Sun is ready to be (re)introduced to the world.
Worlds Around the Sun was very much a product of the era and location in which it was conceived and recorded. The San Francisco Bay Area was a cultural landscape with a vibrant music scene (Sly & the Family Stone, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape) and intense political activism (Black Panther Party, Berkeley Free Speech Movement) interwoven with a progressive literary history (City Lights Bookstore and the Beats) as well as the birthplace of the counter culture (the hippies and Haight-Ashbury).
During the early 1970s, many musicians recorded tributes to political prisoner Angela Davis, including Santana, who performed a funky instrumental workout entitled “Free Angela” on the triple live album Lotus. Cochran had written and recorded it a year earlier as “Free Angela (Thoughts and all I’ve got to say).”
At the time, Worlds Around The Sun caught the ear of Rolling Stone (in that golden era when the publication reviewed many jazz albums) and it even beat out Miles Davis’ iconic On the Corner for jazz album sales that summer of ’72. Miles’ LP held down the #2 spot, while Bayeté topped at #1 on the Downbeat chart.
While Cochran would later form the rock band Automatic Man (with Santana drummer Michael Shrieve), play keyboards on Peter Gabriel’s second solo album, and guest on recordings by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Freddie Hubbard, Burt Bacharach, and Jeff Beck, the journey begins with 1972's Worlds Around the Sun.
According to Cochran, “The passage I was to take began with this album. International influences, acknowledging, embracing, and celebrating the variations of diaspora, seeking the connections of humanity through musical expression — all was activated with this collection of music.”