Pharoah Sanders had notably been John Coltrane’s sideman and published ” The Creator Has a Master Plan “.
Pharoah Sanders, the saxophonist who helped John Coltrane explore the avant-garde and push jazz itself towards the spiritual, has died aged 81. Record label Luaka Bop, which released Sanders’ acclaimed collab and Floating Points, Promises, in 2021, announced the death of the jazz legend on Saturday. No cause of death was specified.
” We are devastated to announce that Pharoah Sanders has passed away., wrote the label on Instagram. He died peacefully surrounded by his family and friends in Los Angeles this morning. Always and forever the most beautiful human being, may he rest in peace. »
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, Farrell Sanders first experienced the Bay Area jazz scene before moving to New York, where he struggled at first.
” Unable to make a living from his music, Sanders had to pawn his instrument, take on non-musical jobs and sometimes sleep on the subway”, can we read on the website of the saxophonist. However, Sanders soon found work alongside other innovators like Sun Ra (who told him to adopt the name “Pharoah” instead of Farrell), Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, who, after his famous A Love Supremebegan to experiment with free jazz.
Sanders joined Coltrane’s band on tenor saxophone in 1965, a year that saw Coltrane record three of his pioneering masterpieces: Ascent, meditations and Om. After Coltrane’s death in 1967, Sanders briefly performed alongside his widow Alice Coltrane (notably with his classic Journey in Satchidananda) before embarking on his own path as a leader.
In 1969 Sanders published what is considered his most revered work, Karmawhich includes his one-and-a-half-hour opus ” The Creator Has a Master Plan a recording that took spiritual jazz even further and one of the most influential pieces of its time.
The saxophonist continued his steady output throughout the 1970s and 1980s, both as a frontman and sideman for other jazz greats like McCoy Tyner, Sonny Sharrock, Idris Muhammad, Leon Thomas and many more.
While the saxophonist has remained a fixture on the live jazz circuit, in 2021 Sanders returned from a nearly two-decade studio hiatus to record alongside electronic music producer Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra. The resulting work, Promiseshas been hailed as one of the best jazz albums of the past decade.
” Consisting of a single 46-minute work, the album is both surprisingly minimal and strikingly beautiful.writing RollingStone about the album. It’s only sparingly, such as in a blistering brief episode after about 35 minutes, that Sanders gets into the saxophone ululations he’s famous for, but overall the track sounds like a loving sonic gift from disciple to master, and a worthy successor to Sanders’ seminal epics of the 1960s and 1970s “.
Floating Points paid tribute to Sanders on Saturday following news of his death: My beautiful friend passed away this morning. I am so lucky to have known this man, and we are all blessed to have his art that stays with us forever. Thank you Pharoah. »
Translated by the editor