SUN RA / Space Is The Place – YouTube

So many layers of counterpoint I almost get lost. This is definitely a chant-type composition in that it repeats the lyrics over and over while the instruments evolve into a multi-layered set of both tonal and non-tonal (bitonal? multi-tonal?) counterpoint. The baritone sax keeps the same line throughout, but the tenor and alto saxes along with the trumpets morph from straight-up big band arrangement to free improv. The bari, drums, and bass glue the whole thing together.

This tune, and others like it, were common ingredients in what Graham Lock refers to as “space chants”: medleys of space-themed tunes, strung together as part of a performance for and with the audience. Space chants often ended with a kind of second-line dance with musicians coming down off the stage to dance in front of, among, and with the audience. I have heard tell that sometimes the line would dance out the door of the club onto the street. A typical second-line performance can be seen in the Robert Mugge film A Joyful Noise. read more