Nfld. & Labrador·First Listen

The musicians of Big Space are happy to be back in the same space

The hard lockdowns and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic were not great times for members of the St. John’s free jazz trio Big Space.  

Have a First Listen to In Relation To by Big Space

Big Space is a free jazz trio consisting of, from left, Ashley Chalmers, Ian Murphy and Grant King. (Ritche Perez/Submitted by Big Space)

The hard lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic were not great times for members of the St. John's jazz trio Big Space

"It was weird," Big Space guitarist Grant King recently told CBC's Weekend AM.

"When I was locked down just playing by myself, it was like not speaking for four months." 

Free jazz

Big Space consists of King, Ian Murphy on bass and Ashley Chalmers on drums. 

The three musicians specialize in improvised, free jazz, which requires the three of them to play together, listen intently to each other, and create music in the moment. 

"The music that we make doesn't really work in separate parts," said Chalmers. 

In Relation To is an album of pieces captured live in the studio, between lockdowns, with all three members playing and recording together. 

Unique performances

Like all Big Space performances, the recordings on this collection are one-of-a kind events. 

"Ninety per cent of what you're hearing is improvised, so there's a lot of risk involved," said Chalmers.

"There's moments on the album where there's magic, and there's moments where we have to say, 'Well, that's just the nature of the improv.'" 

Energy of the room

Now that pandemic restrictions have eased, Murphy said the band is thrilled to be resuming gigs in front of live audiences. 

Murphy said performing In Relation To for other people is like adding more musicians to the mix. 

"We're not just feeding off the sound [of each other], we're feeding off the energy of the room."

Do you have a new album of music that Weekend AM should know about for First Listen? Email us,, and tell us about it. 

You can hear First Listen on Sundays on Weekend AM from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. (5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in most of Labrador) on CBC Radio One.

Subscribe to the Weekend AM podcast: 

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Heather Barrett is the host and producer of Weekend AM on CBC Radio One in Newfoundland and Labrador.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Account Holder

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?