Happy birthday, Pharoah Sanders

An absolute colossus of the saxophone, Pharoah Sanders is the heir apparent to the Coltrane legacy, combining musical exploration and spirituality in a unified expression. Sanders work from the sixties through the mid-seventies, both as leader and with both Coltranes, speaks to me on a very personal level. It’s the kind of music that can make you feel part of a much larger whole, at least it certainly does for me. Of course, I did have an insane out of body psychedelic experience to Sanders’, Thembi, once, but I was playing it for it’s aforementioned properties to begin with…. so yeah, I may be a little biased.


This is an all too brief clip of prime Pharoah, in a quartet setting with Lonnie Liston Smith on Norris Jones, aka Sirone on bass, and Majeed Shabazz on drums. I need to see this whole set!

Tauhid is my favorite Pharoah record, and a huge influence on both the MC5 and THe Stooges, due in no small part to Sonny Sharrock’s ferocious guitar.

Izipho Zam, Pharoah’s only release with the highly collectible Strata East Records, also features Sonny Sharrock, and vocalist, Leon Thomas, and is one of the heaviest sessions in the Sanders catalog.

A couple of tracks from his Coltrane tenure…

And here’s one with the final member of the saxophone holy trinity, Albert Ayler.

Pharoah also contributed to two Don Cherry records…

Leon Thomas vocals also grace one of Sanders most recognized tracks, The Creator Has A Master Plan.

The album that took me, and my gf of the time, to heretofore unseen worlds, Thembi, which perhaps not so coincidentally features the song Astral Travelling.

And one of several Alice Coltrane records on which Pharoah is featured…

Pharoah cuts loose with the poet/prophets of Black Power, The Last Poets.

Pharoah reunited with Sonny Sharrock for the guitarist’s classic, Ask The Ages.

A stunning performance in an abandoned tunnel…

Let loving never cease…


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