Egypt, Afro-futurism and the making of "Space Is The Place"

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THOMPSON: We still play “Space Is The Place” now. It doesn’t go as long as Sun Ra had it on the record, you know, but it goes on. It’s an unusual piece and it’s one of our favourites, the crowd always loves it. It is an endurance test somewhat, but the music has got so much energy in it that it makes you feel extremely happy. Sun Ra had a mission and we were all for it, even now. Marshall Allen, you know he’s for it, he’s the bandleader now. Sun Ra’s music is so happy and so healthy, and it does some wonderful things to you.

SCOTT: Sun Ra would say that when you’re really into a tune, and you know it, and you’re playing your ass off, and you really think you’re doing it, then that ain’t nothing. He’d say, when you’re not sure, when you’re wondering if you’re playing right and you’re trying to get this out, that’s when you’re really playing. And I have found that to be true.

WILMER: The last time I saw him was when I went to theirs in Philly many years ago. I went to interview John Gilmore, but Sonny and I hung out with him for a while, and he gave me a record and signed it to me. Someone drove me and Sonny to the station, and I got on the train. The next thing I know I hear him shouting at me – I had forgotten the record. All I can remember seeing is him running down the tracks, sort of tummy wobbling, and he says, “Here Valerie, you forgot this!” And that’s the last time I saw him. But you see what I mean – he was also a normal human being.

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FACT FILE

Written by: Sun Ra
Produced by: Alton Abraham and Ed Michel
Recorded at: Streeterville, Chicago
Personnel includes: Sun Ra (Farfisa organ), Marshall Allen, Danny Davis, Larry Northington (alto saxophone), Danny Ray Thompson (baritone sax), John Gilmore (sax, vocals), Eloe Omoe (bass clarinet), Pat Patrick (bass), June Tyson, Ruth Wright, Cheryl Banks, Judith Holton (vocals)
Released: 1973
UK/US chart positions: -;-

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TIMELINE

Early 1971
Sun Ra teaches a course at the University Of California in Berkeley, titled ‘The Black Man In The Cosmos’

December 1971
The Arkestra travel to Egypt to explore the ancient sites and play shows

1972
Sun Ra and his group film Space Is The Place, a feature film produced by Jim Newman, which attempts to present some of Ra’s beliefs

October 19, 1972
The collective record the 22-minute “Space Is The Place” at Chicago’s Streeterville studio, releasing it as the title track of the Space Is The Place album the following year

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