Space Is The Place

Five dramas about jazz legends, written by Jeff Young and featuring the music of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and more.

30x 5min (and omnibuses), by Sparklab, starts January 2021

The structure of the dramas will mirror the itinerant life of all jazz musicians endlessly on the move, playing with different line-ups and recording as session musicians.

The series will have a chronology that is not necessarily linear, based rather on influence and legacy, following the story of jazz as it unfolds for a leading journeyman protagonist. He sets out on a quest to time-travel through the history of jazz, sending postcards home from jazz clubs, tombstones and sacred places. He’s right there, at turning points in the lives of our musicians.

Each 5-min episode dramatises a key moment, revealing the essence of the artist, and like all good storytelling, leaves us wanting to hear more. As well as dramatisation, the dramas will use music, archive from interviews and scripted narration to build the story across the week.

Beginning with Sun Ra in Liverpool, the listener will time-travel back to a New Orleans pawn shop in 1916 where 15-year-old Louis Armstrong, straight out of an orphanage, buys his first cornet for ten dollars. They’ll meet Miles Davis in May 1949 arriving in Paris – a place where black American jazz musicians can breathe – and watch him fall in love with Juliette Greco. They’ll witness the night Eunice Waymon gives up her dream of becoming a concert pianist and assumes the name Nina Simone to sing incognito in piano bars. And they’ll be in the audience in Berlin 1968 when Ella Fitzgerald forgets the words to Mack the Knife and makes jazz history with her improvisation.

Each nightly 5-min episode will build up through the week, to be compiled into an Ombinus episode on five recurrent Sunday evenings.

Jazz FM