Fire of Space is an adventurous, groove-based band of artists committed to entertainment and education through music. Founded in New York City by trumpeter and composer Jordan McLean, Fire of Space also features trombonist Aaron Johnson, reedsmen Stuart Bogie and Michael Herbst, keyboardist Shoko Nagai, bassist Tom Abbs, and percussionist Geoff Mann. The musicians are all fixtures in N.Y.C.'s underground and improvised music scenes. McLean, Johnson, Bogie, and Herbst have performed with Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra (itself an outgrowth of King Changó); Abbs and Nagai are improvisational virtuosos with numerous projects under their belts, including Abbs' work with Rashied Ali and Nagai's leadership of her own combo, a fixture at N.Y.C.'s Knitting Factory club. Drummer Mann has worked with saxophonist Ori Kaplan and father Herbie Mann's group Sona Terra.
Fire of Space came together in the early '00s around a concept of music and education, as many of its members doubled as teachers and supporters of the musical arts. McLean teaches privately and is a resident artist with New York's Learning Through an Expanded Arts Program. In 1997, Abbs founded Jump Arts, an arts coalition dedicated to providing performance opportunities for the artists of New York City. And Herbst directed Incubator, Inc., a non-profit arts organization raising money to facilitate the arts. The effort led to the creation of murals and recordings, and to the establishment of hundreds of workshops throughout New York City and Philadelphia. With its debut 2003 release, Age of Epoch, FOS decided to take its show -- and its ideals -- on the road. Traveling throughout the East Coast, Northeast, and Midwest, the band performed anywhere it could be heard, from clubs and cafes to house parties and impromptu living room jams. The band also arranged school visits and music workshops in many of the cities it visited.