Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sun Ra - Space Is the Place Soundtrack (Evidence, 1993)

Not to be confused with the Impulse! Sun Ra LP Space Is The Place, this is the soundtrack to the wonderful blaxploitation film of the same name. During their travels on the west coast in the late '60's and early '70's, Ra and his Arkestra made contacts with some filmmakers. What was originally planned as a documentary film morphed into a campy treasure as Sun Ra battled "The Overseer" in a story that mixed racial pride, science fiction and spiritualism. Music is, of course, the the key to the whole thing. This is a fine edition of the Arkestra with Ra armed with a battery of electronic keyboards, and flanked by lifers Marshall Allen on alto saxophone, John Gilmore on tenor saxophone and June Tyson on vocals. Tyson is really the linchpin here acting not only as a foil to the instrumentalists, but leading the band on their "space age chants" like "Outer Spaceways Incorporated," "Satellites are Spinning," and "Space is the Place." There are a couple of excellent blowouts for the instrumentalists as well, "Blackman/Love In Outer Space" opens with Tyson singing a call to arms followed by an intense interlude of free jazz and percussion. A battery of percussion also fuels the exciting "Watusa" before opening into a fine Gilmore solo. This is a fascinating album, and one of the key records Sun Ra made in the seventies, touching on all of his high points, lyrical melodies, science fiction chants, and exploratory free jazz.
Space Is the Place -

Send comments to: Tim