Thursday, March 19, 2020

Pharoah Sanders - Live in Paris 1975 (Transversales Disque, 2020)

After three years of playing hardcore free jazz with John Coltrane and then spending the late sixties and early seventies trying to graft that sound to the nascent spiritual jazz movement, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders had begun to diversify and alter his sound and approach to live concerts by the middle of the decade. While he was still capable of the fierce overblowing that was the hallmark of his early years, he was now willing to incorporate large swaths of mainstream jazz, elements of blues, R and B and ballads which gave his concerts a much more well rounded narrative sensibility. That is what is presented here, with a well rehearsed band featuring Danny Mixon on piano, Calvin Hill on bass and Greg Bandy on drums playing music that is accessible to all jazz fans beginning with the opening two-parter "Love Is Here" which allows the band to stretch out on a solid theme and improvise on it with lengthy spots for the leader's tenor saxophone and Mixon's piano soloing, and also vocal chanting encouragement throughout. "Farrell Tune" calls back to his given name and time growing up in Arkansas, creating an easy swinging groove for the rhythm section to build dynamically and lead into the centerpiece of the album, "The Creator Has a Master Plan." Easily Sanders' best known composition and the thirty minute anchor of his Karma LP, this version is much shorter, but it is really the only place on the record that he cuts loose with some of the raw honks and bellows that were the hallmarks of his earlier albums. But you get the sense that these were carefully placed, and done in a way that wouldn't offend those of a gentle disposition. Neither would the ballad "I Want to Talk About You" a longtime staple of the Coltrane songbook, where Sanders does his old boss proud with a beautiful reading of the melody, and a chaste performance of the song. They finish with the rousing "Love Is Everywhere" mixing vocal chant with uptempo jazz performance, percussive piano and strong saxophone creating an almost gospel fervor. Live in Paris 1975 - amazon.com

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