Pharoah Sanders – Journey To The One (Pure Pleasure)
Condition: Brand New
Pharoah Sanders (ts); Eddie Henderson (flh); Joe Bonner, John Hicks (p); Carl Lockett (g); James Pomerantz (sit); Phil Ford (tabla); Ray Drummond (b); Idris Muhammad (dr); and others.
At the time of the release of this LP, 1980, Pharoah Sanders was a constant among tenor saxophonists. The death of John Coltrane and Sanders' fruitful years of working with the prolific saxophone genius had an unmistakable influence on his sound and exploration of the instrument.
Starting with "Greetings To Idris" the structure of the music follows the tradition, but opens up to the musicians for improvisation within the arrangement. The track refers to the drummer Idris Muhammad, who was invited here and who had also played with Coltrane in his late days. Of course Sander's saxophone is the central instrument, daring and demanding full attention. Sanders is always interested in other instruments from other cultures, similar to Trane, and includes the Japanese instrument Koto, a wonderfully harmonic stringed instrument.
He uses it as a contrast to his soft, rich tenor tone which, together with other wind instruments and a harmonium, creates a wonderful, peaceful mood on "Kazuko" (Peace Child), which has the qualities of a meditative sacrifice. Most of the recordings, eight titles, were composed and arranged by Sanders and demonstrate his leading role. There is a composition by John Coltrane entitled "After The Rain", arranged in the spirit of Trane, which makes it difficult for even the most demanding listener to distinguish between the original version and Sanders' influence. It is a bluesy duet, just saxophone and piano, and one that you will want to hear again and again because of its simple and haunting motives.
Another composition by Coltrane, entitled "Easy To Remember", has a gentle swing built around a classical quartet (drums, bass, piano, saxophone) as used by Coltrane, and the result is an excellent standard. Sanders uses other instruments that are actually foreign to jazz, by integrating a sitar next to a tabla in "Soledad", which is the center of attention before Sanders joins in. The result is simply brilliant, East and West merge and form an interface for a peaceful composition. Sanders' music on this LP oscillates between the quiet sounds of his gentle instrument and the outer limits, which Trane also explored in his late period.
What distinguishes this LP from others is the fact that it is a group that plays under his direction and he lets all others play almost equally. The uptempo "You've Got To Have Freedom" is one such track, Sanders has some solos but works within the group structure, while the other musicians, especially Eddie Henderson on the flugelhorn, set the direction. The choir, which can be heard here most of the time, proclaims "Ya gotta have peace and love, ya gotta have freedom" in Manhattan Transfer style, but presents with much more soul.
The use of vocalists is also continued in the piece entitled "Think About The One", with vocal specialist Bobby McFerrin in the chorus. This LP shows the different sides of Pharoah Sanders, a man who is always ready to explore music and soul and share it with the listener. The concluding piece "Bedria" is a gentle exploration of the span of the tenor saxophone. It is a ten-minute composition that shows all the grace of Pharaoh's being, a gentle giant that can manipulate the instrument to extraordinary achievements and swings outward and backward in floating waves of harmonic bliss.
Sanders is almost perfect on this LP. One of his best recordings from his time after Impulse. It belongs in your jazz collection right next to John Coltrane.
"Varied music, brilliantly restored." (Audio, September 2020)
Label: Theresa Records, Pure Pleasure Records
Format: LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Remastered