R.I.P. Pharoah Sanders

Pharoah Sanders

Jazz saxophonist and composer Pharoah Sanders died in Los Angeles on Saturday at age 81. Sanders was a pioneer of free jazz and started releasing albums in 1965. He started working with John Coltrane the same year and became a member of his last quintet. The musicians had a mutual influence on each other and developed the spiritual jazz movement based on their interest in Hinduism. Sanders also worked with Sun-Ra, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Don Cherry and Gary Bartz during the ’60s. A unique approach to harmonics and long dissonant solos established his reputation as an avant-garde leader. “The Creator Has A Master Plan” from his 1969 album Karma became his signature song known for its soothing pace, reflective message and Leon Thomas’ yodeling. Those early trails of sound would not be his last stylistic choice as he would later explore hard bop, modal jazz and R&B. He recorded albums consistently with each decade and in 1994 he played on The Last Poets’ “This Is Madness” remake for the Red Hot Organization’s Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool project. Sanders recorded more than 30 solo albums and even more as a sideman with others. His most recent work was a 2020 collaboration with electronic producer Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra called Promises. Mark de Clive-Lowe released the album Freedom: Celebrating The Music Of Pharoah Sanders in 2022.