Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bitorrent Blast - Pharoah Sanders Band featuring Leon Thomas; Jazz Workshop; Boston; Aug 4, 1974

Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and vocalist Leon Thomas recorded several times together, notably on Sanders' classic Impulse album Karma, and a few of Thomas' albums for Flying Dutchman. This live torrent of the band from Boston is fascinating for several reasons. One is Sanders playing gutbucket blues while Thomas takes a break from his usual perch in the spiritual realm for the more earthly pulpit as a blues belter, singing John Lee Hooker's "Boom Boom" and the traditional "See See Rider." The juxtaposition between Thomas' smooth croon and otherworldly yodel and Sanders sandpaper-toned tenor saxophone is as compelling as always. But nothing can prepare you for the final section of the 19 minute epic "Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord" that finds Sanders playing some of the most caustic, ecstatic and extreme tenor saxophone ever recorded - a capella no less. In fact, it probably had to be - what instrument or vocalist could possibly compete with the musical equivalent of opening up the top of your skull and sprinkling in a can of Drano? Sonic Youth recorded an epic of their own entitled "Expressway to Yr. Skull" but even they sound like Tom Jones in the face of this unprecedented onslaught. This is the holy grail for fans of spiritual jazz, with Leon Thomas warbling like a underwater Swiss yodeler and Sanders altering beautiful melody statements with drop-the-MOAB scorched earth improv like an Old Testament deity. This is one you definitely want to play at work to introduce the cubicle mates to the wonder that is avant-garde jazz. Then you can go on a spiritual journey of your own - right to the unemployment office, after your ass is unceremoniously booted out of there...

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