Space is the Place Sun Ra (Evidence) 'Out there' only begins to describe the life and times of the great free-jazz saxophone player and band leader Sun Ra. Here was a man who learned his trade during the big-band era of the 1940s and 50s and then took jazz to its wildest extremes. On Space is the Place - the soundtrack to the 1972 film of the same name written by Ra and directed by John Coney - the performer charted his own life, part true, part extravagant mythology, that had its musical roots deep in African traditions of harmony and percussion. But with Ra you always got a little bit more. He liked to say that 'history isn't my story, it's HIS story'. And just what the story was would change over time, reflecting Ra's fixation on all things Egyptian - and alien. What is known is that Ra spent time in jail for refusing to fight in the second world war and that he claimed he was at one stage visited by beings from Saturn - who helped chart his musical course and provided him with a true history of Earth and its place in the universe. How much was done simply for show and how much the man truly believed remains simply part of the mystery. But the musical legacy he left behind when he died - or should that be left - in 1993 was significant. Space is the Place touches on the sounds of soul and the swing influences that would help the likes of Sly and the Family Stone change the landscape of popular music during the 1970s - and it's fair to say that hip hop, with its sampling and heavy beats, owes a lot to the man and his magic too. Ra's mix of music and art was also ground-breaking - as were the live performances that would feature outlandish costumes, musicians coming and going as the set played on, and Ra taking to the microphone to give his unique spin on the world and its woes. This album cruises through the genres, picking up pieces as it goes, and the culmination of Ra's effort - on the title track - is perhaps his most accessible piece of work, a joyous, infectious celebration. Considering the numbers Ra had behind him - and his Arkestra backing band could sometimes swell to more than 20 - his power as a band leader remains a remarkable thing. The blend of horn, percussion and synthetic sounds seems almost seamless. That many of those bandmates he left behind still live together in the same building in Philadelphia - sticking to Ra's creed of no drugs and healthy living - is just one testament to his staying power. The other is this music, as wild and wonderful as music can ever possibly be. For those looking to wade into Ra's vast catalogue, Space is the Place is a perfect launch pad. As the man might have said: don't be scared, take the trip.