PHAROAH SANDERS — Village of the Pharoahs (review)

PHAROAH SANDERS — Village of the Pharoahs album cover Album · 1973 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
Often decried by Sanders purists, I find that the present Village is one of Pharoah’s more interesting work, especially that he tends to forget about the dissonant forays into free-jazz improves and concentrates on the up-tempo grooves. Maybe some tend to see this album as an end of an era, as this is one of his last works before a two years+ absence of new material and his change of label.

Opening on the wild 17-mins three-part suite title track, it is coming with some low-in-the-mix vocals/chants from Sedastrius Brown (who gets his name on the front and some wild African rhythms mixed with Indian influences and percussions. Of the usual Pharoah suspects on the A-side, you’ll only find pianist Bonner, but we’re still very much in the Coltrane sonic galaxy. A short Myth piece closes the suite in a minor fashion.

The flipside is sees regulars like bassist McBee and drummer Connor reappear (on top of Bonner’s contributions) and features second bassist Staley Clark (no “e”), but this writer can’t get his enthusiasm to rise to the level of the title track suite. This is particularly true for the 9-mins Mansion Worlds, a confused affair, where dynamics seem to have been dulled by the erosion of time, despite a bass duet ending the hostilities. Returning to an alice C sound, Memories is a rather tedious affair, missing its mark, and Bonner’s flute doesn’t hit the spot. As to the boogie-woogie closing piece, it is forgettable, despite presenting an unusual facet of Sanders.

Mostly worthy of interest (IMHO) for the sidelong title track, the Village album indeed seems that we’re nearing the end of an era (which will happen with that two year gap and a change of label), but there is really nothing to tell us that it would happen when listening to the present. Maybe not Pharoah’s best, but it’s still wworth throwing your ears on the vinyl grooves of this slice of wax.

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