One of the greatest musical performances I ever saw live was in Spring 1966, sorry have not tracked down exact date, in the University of Wisconsin-Union theater. It was a live performance of the final group of John Coltrane. None of his great quartet from “A Love Supreme” were in it, but it still completely blew my mind.
Somehow this group had another saxophonist besides the greatest of them ever, Coltane, this guy Pharoah Sanders. He was really intense, arguably more so than Coltrane himself. Now, at age 81, Sanders has passed, one of the greatest jazz saxophonists ever.
Apparently his original name was “Farrell.” He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas. When he got to New York in the early 60s, ne nearly starved initially. Eventually he got in to various groups such as Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and then Sun Ra’s group, with Sun Ra changing his name to “Pharoah,” reportedly on Sun Ra not hearing the pronunciation of his name correctly, although obviously it was an apprporiate name change.
His work has been described as “spiritual jazz.” This has been described in the Nation as providing “a frenetic blend of spiritual jazz that, through shrieking horns and loose rhythmic structure, was meant to summon higher powers. The idea, it seemed, was to blow the sax so hard that the music reached God’s ears.”
Not that I am particularly a theist.
His most commercially successful album was with the pianist of that group I sae in Madison, Coltrane;s last wife, Alice, with whom he produced “Journey in Satchidanda,” which I used to play for my older daughters when they were young, a seriously great album