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A Fireside Chat With Pharoah Sanders

By Published: March 21, 2003

PS: I don't know. Sometimes, things get very unseen to the public. You might see me working with the band right now, but I am working with this band right now because I had to break up another band that I was with because of personal problems. You just can't have that when you are playing. You have to have guys that are straight. I may have lost a lot by looking at it that way. Before, I think I had like John Hicks and Idris (Muhammad) and some personal problem happened that don't have anything to do with no music. I said that I was tired of it now and I have to find somebody that is going to do it now and be on time for the gigs and don't give me any problems. I don't want nobody on my gig drunk or doing some other drugs or whatever it may be. I've been knowing William Henderson for a long time, since 1959. I knew William before I met John Hicks. I met William in Oakland, California. He is a very clean person, vegetarian and all. I can really use that around me. I find that in California, I can't find guys that have enough energy. They play a little bit and that's about it. They play less. If I start a tune and then the pianist has to solo, I am looking to everybody to get to a certain climate and then I come back in while the energy is up high. Somehow that doesn't happen.

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?

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