PHAROAH SANDERS — Pharoah

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PHAROAH SANDERS - Pharoah cover
4.07 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1977

Filed under Fusion
By PHAROAH SANDERS

Tracklist

A Harvest Time 20:30
B1 Love Will Find a Way 14:32
B2 Memories of Edith Johnson 5:45

Line-up/Musicians

Tenor Sax, Vocals, Percussion - Pharoah Sanders
Bass - Steve Neil
Guitar - Munoz
Percussion - Lawrence Killian
Organ - Jiggs Chase
Harmonium - Bedria Sanders (side A)
Drums - Greg Bandy

About this release

India Navigation IN 1027(US)

Recorded in NYC, August & September, 1976

Thanks to snobb, js for the updates

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Rexorcist
Perhaps the most polarizing jazz album of all time, Pharoah Sanders himself disowned this album after its release. Now I won't claim to know the Pharoah as well as he himself did, but this may simply be the result of many recording troubles. I understand one of the major criticisms is the general sound of the album, and another seems to be the less spiritual presence in comparison to other classic Pharoah albums.

I personally find both of these flaws to be a bit too opinionated for me. First of all, a sound error can be fixed with a little production, and the version I heard did just that. Secondly, I admire when an artist tries to do something different. This album was quite different, and I really don't mind considering that jazz artists would change themselves all the time. Once bebop went out of style, Miles David switched to cool jazz. Then he reinvented the genre with the fusion work of In a Silent Way, and eventually became a leading figure in jazz-funk.

Pharoah's self-titled album is a wholly consistent mishmash of many of the things that does the exact same thing that In a Silent Way did, and with some similarities, mostly on the fusion and ambient sides. These are two key figures of both albums that are amplified by the other aspects on both compositional and aural levels. Whereas In a Silent Way included a little avant-garde, ambient and rock, this album includes some soul, tribal sounds and ambient. The vocal harmonizing in the final track is easily one of Pharoah's most empowering and heavenly accomplishments, and this five minute track fits perfectly with the two previous epics. This album is a hypnotic journey into a cooler, darker and more self-aware Pharoah that reaches new heights in the world of atmosphere. The entire time I was practically soaked in the album's hypnotic powers, which I can only describe as a battle between noirish laments and alien rituals. This is easily one of my new favorite jazz albums.
Sean Trane
By the time that this album was released in 77, there wasn’t a single member left from the classic-line-up (or Sanders crowd) of the early 70’s, but it doesn’t mean that this album is any less worthy. It’s also notable that this album is not an Impulse product, but released on the small India Navigation label and starts Sanders’s relative instability, shifting more from labels first Arista, then settling with Theresa Records, but let’s face it, Pharoah’s better moments were behind him for a while. But the present album (with a nice barren shrub picture) came after a two years gap without a release, but it was still rather interesting, if only for the A-side.

Opening softly on the 21-mins Harvest Time, it tends to groove slowly until grinding to a halt some 10 minutes into the track. Bell percussions spark up the harmonium and slowly Pharoah’s sax re-enters the picture and the next 10 minutes are spent under a soft spell. On the flipside, the 14-mins+ Love Will Find A Way is not exactly of the same calibre, poor sound, and Sanders’s very “iffy” vocals, followed by screechy sax interventions of his, but id goes softer relatively soon, but fails to match the Harvest’s quality, despite a nice organ part in the second half. The closing Memories piece is a bit more enthralling, but it’s rather clear that the people behind the desk are in over their heads for these sessions.

A poor-sounding album (not sure a proper remastering will better it either), Pharoah signifies a half successful return to business from Sanders, but we’re still quite far away from his Impulse days, but much lesser works will come in the following years. If you need one non-Impulse album, make it this one.

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  • karolcia
  • Fant0mas
  • BORA
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