A Fireside Chat With Pharoah Sanders
Since I have been working with these guys, it never has happened, so I guess guys like to play their little solo and that is it and then the next guy plays his solo and that is it. In New York, by me living there so long, guys are into more energy. We play much longer and that makes me want to play longer. If you build the intensity up to where I can come in on that energy, that is what I want. Then you would see me playing for a long time. If I have to do it all by myself, then it is not working right. I look at it that the whole band is like one big solo. I like to build. If nobody is building with me, then there is no sense in me trying to play because that is not creative. You never get a lot of creativity out of me because I am not pushed to do it. Nobody is looking at the energy. They are all looking at the piece of music and this guy is soloing and they already have it all figured out. I could play the whole set by myself and I am giving them a chance to play and be heard and they don't take advantage of that and do something with it, then it is not going anywhere. That is why I am not getting enough work because I would like to work all the time. Nobody really calls me. Ever since I have been playing, I never worked every month. I will work this month and then I am off two months. That is the way it has been going. I don't know why, but I guess that is just the way it is.
FJ: How do you survive?
PS: I've been getting publishing royalties and stuff like that. I have just been lucky. They come in at the right time. Sometimes they don't, but I am not wealthy or anything like that. I just love to work. I would rather work three hundred and something days out of the year. I would rather be working. They don't know. I love playing. Then I can really get my music together. If I don't do that, then my chops go down and stuff goes down. If I can get some good musicians together and have a good rhythm section, I can keep them working.
I have a lot of problems out in California trying to find drummers and bass players. The bass players, they don't create. A lot of them I know, they just play a little solo. I am not so used to that kind of playing. Drummers can't play on time. Their time is bad. I just don't know what to do. Then when I go to New York City, I find some good drummers or good bass players to work with. I miss New York period and the musicians. Everybody around here is very casual and very social, but no energy. I want somebody to come to the gig and they are ready to hit. They are ready to play. Let's go and hit. Energy and then would play one tune for the whole set. Music can get involved where energy takes you to different places. You know that too. If I don't go there, I don't really feel like I have given the people enough. I am not a person who can get on the bandstand and play a million tunes for a set. I want to play as long as I have my horn, a long, long time, where one tune could be for the whole set. A lot of times, after a piano solo, the bassist thinks he should solo and I feel like the drummer should solo and the bass take the solo after the drummer and the bass can solo and he can take us in another direction.
I remember a bassist that I used and he was always like this. He would take the band different places and he is doing some other things and that is Stanley Clarke. He always played and his energy would be so high that when he played his solo, he would go on and do what he wanted to do and then he would start something else. We would play one tune and after his solo, we would do some other thing. It keeps on moving and I never got tired of that. I wish I could get that back again. It is hard to try and tell a bassist to play a little longer or get into some other rhythms or different times or something. Make me do something.
FJ: Would life have been better for Pharoah Sanders if you remained in New York?