Space Jazz, a Sonic Sci-Fi Opera by L. Ron Hubbard, Featuring Chick Corea (1983)

The Church of Sci­en­tol­ogy has a num­ber of fas­ci­nat­ing­ly dis­tinc­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics, includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to its foun­da­tion by a sci­ence-fic­tion nov­el­ist. That nov­el­ist, a cer­tain L. Ron Hub­bard, launched his reli­gion in the Amer­i­ca of the 1950s, a pros­per­ous place in a Space Age decade when all things sci­ence-fic­tion­al enjoyed a per­haps unprece­dent­ed pop­u­lar­i­ty. Anoth­er big main­stream sci-fi wave would wash over the coun­try in the late 1970s and ear­ly 80s, when, as Nathan Rabin puts it at Slate, “than­ks to the pop­u­lar­i­ty of E.T., Close Encoun­ters of the Third Kind, and the Star Wars and Star Trek fran­chis­es, space was the place and sci­ence fic­tion was the hottest genre around. Sci­en­tol­ogy want­ed in, so an ambi­tious plan was hatched: Hubbard’s epic 1982 Bat­tle­field Earth nov­el, to be fol­lowed by Space Jazz,” an album con­tain­ing a “son­ic space opera” based on the nov­el. At the top of post, you can hear the track “Earth, My Beau­ti­ful Home,” one of the pro­jec­t’s few un-bom­bas­tic num­bers, and one per­formed by a gen­uine­ly more-than-cred­i­ble jazz pianist, Chick Corea

The Church of Sci­en­tol­ogy counts Corea as a mem­ber, as it then did anoth­er of Space Jazz’s guest play­ers, bassist (and Core­a’s Return to For­ev­er band­mate) Stan­ley Clarke. This puts the album into the unusu­al class of works both writ­ten and per­formed by Sci­en­tol­o­gists, a group which also includes Bat­tle­field Earth’s much lat­er, John Tra­vol­ta-star­ring cin­e­mat­ic adap­ta­tion, now known as one of the most notable flops in film his­to­ry. Rabin, in his arti­cle, also cov­ers sev­er­al oth­er albums cred­it­ed to Hub­bard, includ­ing 1986’s posthu­mous Mis­sion Earth, record­ed by mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist/­Scien­tol­o­gist Edgar Win­ter, which he calls the only one “that could con­ceiv­ably be played on the radio with­out prompt­ing con­fused cries of, ‘Why?’ and ‘What?’ and ‘Is this even music?’ ” Some say sci­ence fic­tion has under­gone anoth­er boom in recent years, but alas, we still await the great Sci­en­to­log­i­cal con­cept album of the 21st cen­tu­ry.

via Slate

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When William S. Bur­roughs Joined Sci­en­tol­ogy (and His 1971 Book Denounc­ing It)

Isaac Asi­mov Recalls the Gold­en Age of Sci­ence Fic­tion (1937–1950)

Stan­ley Kubrick’s Daugh­ter Shares Pho­tos of Her­self Grow­ing Up on Her Father’s Film Sets

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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