Pharaoh Sanders

Sanders 1981
Pharoah Sanders, 1981.

Continuing to explore the ouevre of the jazz greats, I’ve been listening to Pharoah Sanders (1940–2022) (wiki; website. See also e.g. here, here, and here).

After moving to New York in 1962, Sanders became a protégé of Sun Ra, and was soon part of a group of challenging sax players that included Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. After his early turbulent style, his quest continued the “spiritual jazz” legacy of John Coltrane. Following Trane’s iconic A love supreme (1964), Sanders joined his band in 1965, taking part in live performances of the album, and recording Ascension and Meditations that same year.

Sanders Trane

Pharoah Sanders, John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison, and Rashied Ali
outside the Village Vanguard, New York 1966.

He went on to work fruitfully with Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, and continued Trane’s spiritual style with his widow Alice. Ever diffident, floating from label to label, his career dipped in the 1990s, but revived after 2000.

Here he is live in 1968:

Here’s his second album Tauhid (1966)—whose wonderful first track, with Sanders doubling on piccolo over sparse percussion, reminds me somewhat of Japanese Noh, for all its Egyptian inspiration:

Healing song, his “jazz funeral” for Trane:

Karma (1969), mainly The Creator has a master plan:

which he revisited live at the Jazz Café in London in 2011:

From 1968 to 1971 he released a series of creative albums with Alice Coltrane:

A monastic trio (1968) (as playlist):

Ptah, the El Daoud (1970):

Journey In Satchidananda (1971) (as playlist):

In the same vein, leading his own band without Alice: Jewels of thought (1969):

and Thembi (1971):

Like Trane, Sanders has always loved to elaborate on ballads. One of his favoured standards was Midnight in Berkeley square:

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