Pharaoh Sanders – Live… – Pure Pleasure Records

by | May 27, 2023 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

This vinyl upgrade is a fitting homage to a jazz legend.

Pharaoh Sanders – Live…Theresa Records TR 116 (1981)/Pure Pleasure Records (2023) 180-gram stereo double vinyl, 64:48. ****:

(Pharaoh Sanders – ten saxophone; John Hicks – piano; Walter Booker – double bass; Idris Muhammad – drums)

Last year, the jazz world lost an icon…saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. For more than 40 years, he was an impactful recording artist, helping to define the free jazz and spiritual jazz genres. As a sideman, he was a notable collaborator with John Coltrane, helping him to transition to free-form dissonant music. Pure Pleasure Records has released a 180-gram re-mastered double vinyl of Pharoah SandersLive. Recorded at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall in 1981, he is backed by John Hicks (piano), Walter Booker (double bass) and Idris Muhammad (drums). This quartet swings. Side A kicks off with an extended number, “You’ve Got To Have Freedom”. With Sanders utilizing stretched out tonality in the intro, the quartet kicks in with ferocity. John Hicks’ up tempo lead combines a left-handed vamp with right-hand notation. Sanders rejoins with melodic nuance and matches the intensity. As his solo progresses, it becomes more free-form and sharply raucous. Hicks returns with a furious run. Sanders is verbally exhorting the band, and Muhammad’s powerful drumming is heard on a great solo.

Side B has two tracks. “Easy To Remember” is a distinct change of pace. The relaxed vibe and melancholic feeling is translated by Sanders. His use of vibrato is effective and Walter Booker’s double bass weaves gracefully around Sanders and Hicks. Muhammad’s steady deft touch is an anchor. Sanders finishes with a muscular run. Picking up the pace, “Blues For Santa Cruz” is as advertised, jaunty and soulful. Hicks lays down the blues structure, as Sanders wails on tenor. This ensemble is comfortable in different styles. Booker contributes another lithe solo with guitar-like articulation, and Sanders offers up an improvisational vocal and band introduction. Muhammad gets “Pharomba” (Side C) started wit funky drumming. Sanders infuses his tenor runs with lower-register play against a Latin-infused polyrhythmic tempo. The rhythm section is flawless. Hicks’ chord flourishes and Muhammad’s percussive mastery steal the show. This 180-gram includes a “bonus” track, “Doktor Pitt”, and it is explosive. With Muhammad adding propulsive drumming, the quartet has an unbridled energy. Sanders’ tenor saxophone is incendiary and Hicks percolates. It is a vibrant mixture of straight ahead jazz with free jazz elocution.

Kudos to Pure Pleasure Records for releasing this update vinyl of Pharaoh SandersLive. The sound mix is balanced with great stereo separation. The performance shines a light on a bona fidelity jazz legend!       

—Robbie Gerson

Pharaoh Sanders – Live…

Side A: You’ve Got To Have Freedom
Side B: Easy To Remember; Blues For Santa Cruz
Side C: Pharomba
Side D: Doktor Pitt (bonus track).   

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