The Fictive Five (Less One Live): Forget Reality, Larry Ochs talks composition and structured improvisation

The Fictive Five photo by Petra Cvelbar

In the fall of 1969, Larry Ochs was bouncing between majors at the University of Pennsylvania, while working as a college radio DJ at 88.5 FM/WXPN. “I was a rock guy back then, I liked Jimi Hendrix,” he says. “The station had an incredible jazz collection but at the time I didn’t know much about jazz.”

One afternoon, word spread that a ‘pretty far out band’ was playing in a decommissioned church not far from WXPN’s studio. As Ochs recalls, most of the staff was going to the show, so he went too.

What he encountered there was none other than the Sun Ra Arkestra. The ceiling was so low, he remembers, that the performers couldn’t stand all the way up without bumping their heads.

“All that power was happening in this tiny church basement,” he says. “Being there, witnessing that performance really changed my life. I didn’t get what the hell was going on, but I sure wanted to go back. There were dancers running through the crowd because there was no room for them on stage,” he adds. “The whole experience made the world move under my feet.” Read the full feature story at The Chattanooga Pulse.

The Fictive Five plays three shows on its current run through the Southeast: On Tuesday, March 4 at Timucua Arts Foundation Orlando, Florida, at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Barking Legs Theatre on Thursday, March 5, and at Hendershots in Athens, Georgia on Friday, March 6.