Space Is The Place

Five dramas, written by Jeff Young and Fraser Ayres, telling the stories of Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Louis Armstrong and Sun Ra.

30x 5min (and omnibuses), by Sparklab, first aired 23rd November 2020

Jazz FM will broadcast its first ever drama, based on five pivotal moments in the lives of the legendary artists, with short episodes each evening in the run up to Christmas, with an omnibus edition on Saturday evenings.

A series of 5 dramas about jazz legends as part of the 30th anniversary of Jazz FM. From Monday 23 November – Saturday 26 December the stories of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Nina Simone and Sun Ra build across the week in 5’ episodes, culminating in an omnibus each Saturday  night.  Researched by Beena Khetani, written by Jeff Young and Fraser Ayres, sound designed by Eloise Whitmore and Paul Cargill, the series is directed and produced by Mel Harris of Sparklab Productions. Supported by a strong ensemble, Jazz Traveller is played by Kevin Harvey, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone by Madeline Appiah, Miles Davis by Peter Bankolé, Louis Armstrong by George Eggay and Sun Ra by Wil Johnson.

The series has a chronology that is not necessarily linear, based rather on influence and legacy, following the story of jazz as it unfolds for our Jazz Traveller. His life changed one night in 1990 at the Bluecoat in Liverpool when he saw Sun Ra and his Arkestra make the venue levitate with their mind-blowing jazz from outer space. He decides the only way to understand what he’s just witnessed is to time-travel through the history of jazz, placing himself right at the turning points in the lives of our musicians. Each 5’ episode dramatizes a key moment, revealing the essence of the artist, and like all good storytelling, leaves us wanting to hear more. The 5-part series ends each Saturday night in a full half hour omnibus on the …….. show between 9 – 10pm.

Our series is a bit like jazz itself: unpredictable, freeform and immersive. We’ll follow Ella Fitzgerald as she grows up in Harlem and becomes an international sensation, touring the world. We’ll time-travel back to New Orleans in 1912 and hear a young Louis Armstrong blow his first beaten up cornet. We’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. We’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 finally, back where we started, we’ll join our Jazz Traveller at the Bluecoat in Liverpool in 1990 where Sun Ra and his Arkestra lift the roof.

Consisting of 5x short acts broadcast on weeknights, and an omnibus each Saturday at 9pm:

  • w/c 23 November – ELLA FITZGERALD written by Jeff Young
  • w/c 30 November – LOUIS ARMSTRONG written by Fraser Ayres
  • w/c 7th December – MILES DAVIS written by Fraser Ayres
  • w/c 14th December – NINA SIMONE written by Jeff Young
  • w/c 21st December – SUN RA written by Fraser Ayres
Space Is The Place Introduction
A clip from Ella Fitzgerald episode 1
Hear the episodes on the Jazz FM website as they're broadcast
Jazz FM