Recorded on August 26, 1965 (and not released until after his death in heavily edited form), Sun Ship was the final recording by John Coltrane's quartet with drummer Elvin Jones, pianist McCoy Tyner, and bassist Jimmy Garrison. After nearly four years together, this band had achieved a vital collective identity. When Coltrane moved toward metrically free styles of rhythm and melody (with tunes often based on one chord or a short series of notes as themes), the quartet's rhythmic pulse and collective interplay evolved accordingly. The title track opens with a splintered theme. Garrison and Jones group dramatically around the leader's call, then rhythmically abstract the pulse; they imply a central rhythm more than state one.
Self-avowed amateur musician Kevin Ayers left Soft Machine because they were too advanced for him. His claim disavowing pop music ran contrary to wanting to make money, and his attitude about writing critical songs flew in the face of his theory that many musical judgments are generally negative. The ultimate flip-flopper beyond the pale of many politicians, Ayers was admittedly a lazy drunk whose disdain for learning technique branded him not only an anomaly, but in many circles charming via an idiot savant persona.