Published Jun 06, 2015Not unlike the universe itself, it was hard to tell exactly when the Sun Ra Star System began. The septet started improvising while trumpet player JP Carter was still setting his up amp and music stands and upright bassist Colin Cowan fussed around with a string of bells and a Califone record player as the sunset peeked through the cracks in the boarded window behind them. An homage to the brilliance of outsider jazz composer Sun Ra, who would have celebrated his 101st birthday just days before this set, this motley Arkestra crew counted seven of Vancouver's finest, with Carter and Cowan joined by Daniel Gaucher on drums, Tyson Naylor on keys, Tom Wherrett on electric guitar, John Paton on tenor sax, Ben Henriques on baritone sax and flute, with most of them also tweaking various electronics.
Stunning to behold, as soon as this cadre of freelance misfits and hired guns landed on that first far-out groove of "Angels and Demons at Play," the spirit of the space jazz master was there, in the room, creating portals of sound beyond the conception of mortals. They organized the chaos of creation, then splintered off in fractals of sound and rhythm, transitions of abstraction smoothly coaxing their sophisticated psychedelic jazz fusion toward crushing moments of near-righteous euphoria before rolling back into the froth. The cherry was "Love In Outer Space," joined by vocalist Jenn Bojm for only a verse or so, but it was a hell of a verse, tying the song together like the Dude's rug. Saturn was calling, and they accepted the charges.