I sure wish I had a record player at my work desk…
I found this 10″ gem in the box of LPs I’m cataloging, and now I’m dying to hear what it sounds like:
Alto sax player/bandleader Elgart composed this disc of jazz-inflected avant-garde program music in 1953. Weird sci-fi program music, from the looks of things. The program, written by Samuel Mines (editor of the pulp magazines Startling Stories, Thrilling Wonder Stories, and Fantastic Story Magazine), describes a journey from Earth to the mysterious “Purple Planet” beyond Neptune, and the perils and wonders along the way.
From the cover, one would expect an army of theremins, vibraphones, and other “novelty” instruments of the ’50s; maybe also some of the homemade “cybernetic circuits” used by the Barrons to score Forbidden Planet. Not so! From the back cover: “The Elgart Ensemble consists of five saxophones, trombones, piano, string bass and percussion.” No electronics mentioned here or anywhere else in the program, although I’d bet there’s a vibraphone somewhere in the percussion section.
My first thought when looking at this record was that Elgart must have heard a Sun Ra record and agreed that space really is the place. After further investigation, I was surprised to see that this album predates Sun Ra’s first LPs (Jazz by Sun Ra and Super-Sonic Jazz, both 1956) by three years. Now I have to wonder if Sun Ra had heard Impressions of Outer Space, and if he was inspired by it in any way… Hopefully I can find this online somewhere or I can borrow the record so I can actually hear what it sounds like. If/when that happens, I’ll be sure to update this post.