Space is the Place was the theme for our 2004 Summer School. Musical Director Mat Fox was, and still is, passionate about the music of Sun Ra, the American jazz musician and band leader (1914-93) and the theme’s that he encompassed and wanted to expose our young people to the man and his music. Through the Summer School and related projects in Livity, Johanna and Larkhall Primary Schools we explored and created our tribute to Sun Ra.
“Sun Ra was an experimentalist composer and arranger and his Arkestra was a collective of musicians who came and went, lived together and rehearsed all the time. It was a way of life. The Arkestra continually pushed for new types of expression and creativity. Amongst its inspirations were Space, Africa, Myth, the Future, Science and Ancient Egypt. Ra experimented with new musical technologies, the moog synthesizer; he played with tones and colours that no one else tried. The Arkestra recorded everything. Each performance was unique. The band was unafraid to go into any musical area. Conventionally banal music got the Ra treatment and emerged transformed. Ra performed explorations of what he called ‘Great American Music’s’ revisiting and re-working the music of, amongst others, Ellington, Gershwin and Disney. There is a freshness and innocence, to a lot of Ra’s work but an innocence that is not naïve for it is born of ceaseless searching for new ways to express the inner and outer world and rigorous playing technique. The band alternatively swings like Basie and Ellington and gets right out there with the free experimentalists. It mixes African chanting and drumming with Latin grooves, free collective improvisation with crafted big-band arranging, ballads with electronic tone poems to the galaxy. This is all held together by the community that is Ra and his Arkestra.” Mat Fox, 2004