Monday, August 08, 2011

Pharoah Sanders – Village of the Pharaohs/Wisdom through Music (Originally released on Impulse, 1971-72, Re-issued Verve, 2011)

Although saxophonist Pharoah Sanders made his reputation as a firebrand of “The New Thing” there was always a deeply spiritual and meditative side to his playing and that aspect of his music comes to the forefront on this recently re-issued “2-fer.” “Village of the Pharaohs” is a three part suite, which is particularly interesting because Sanders is playing soprano saxophone rather than his usual tenor. The music is full of rumbling percussion and the introduction of the shakuhachi adds an exotic flair. Vocalizing and chanting are present throughout the music along with bells and shaken hand percussion. Sunrise like piano and percussion open “Mansion Worlds” with soprano and percussion developing a hypnotic groove. ”Went Like It Came” is a bit of a ringer, sounding like a party in the studio with bootin’ tenor saxophone over a powerful bass groove. Vocal chanting and singing is a main component of “High Life” and “Love is Everywhere” where percussion and strong beats keep the music from flying off into the cosmos. “Wisdom Through Music” develops a harp-like sound and wanders through sections of bubbling percussion and overdubbed saxophone. The lengthly “Selflessness” ends the record with more of the same chanting and incanting with percussion and then throws in a much needed twist: Sanders enters strong, blowing hard and breathing some much needed life into the music. The music does seem a little dated and time-locked at times, with bells and chanting recalling the 1970’s in all its hazy glory. Still it’s nice to have these relatively rare records back in print, showing that Sanders was a much more varied and multi-faceted musician than people have given him credit for. Village Of The Pharoahs / Wisdom Through Music - amazon.com

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