It could be argued that there is no more controversial figure in music history as avant-garde electronic composer John Cage. Perhaps best known for his composition “4’33,”” which consisted of Cage sitting at a piano for four-plus minutes of total silence, Cage was both loved and loathed in the 60s and 70s as a leading light in avant-garde music and as an entertainingly weird guy who used radios, televisions, live dancers and his own Adam’s apple as instruments in his live performances. Cage’s music blurred the line between music, performance art and visual art in a way that no other composer has before or since.
The title track was a vehicle for Arkestral vocalist June Tyson, who had been with the band since 1967 and was in absolute peak form in 1972. Meanwhile, Ronnie Boykins, who had been Sunny’s full-time bassist from 1957 through 1968, was a welcome guest on this occasion. It is his ostinato that holds the theme statement together, and his arco that guides and accompanies Sunny on his space wandering, where they are joined by Akh Tal Ebah on trumpet, and by the ecstatically interweaving alto saxes of Marshall Allen and Danny Davis. A trio of wriggling alto (Danny Davis), mini-Moog synthesizers, and high bowed bass develops, with Sunny and Ronnie accompanying Tyson’s hushed recapitulation. This is one of the Arkestra’s greatest performances.