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A Fireside Chat With Pharoah Sanders

By Published: March 21, 2003

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?

PS: Well, I lived in New York in the Nineties. Well, if I went on and signed a contract when they asked me to and I waited about a whole year before I even thought about signing a contract. I should have went on and signed it then before the new owner. That is my fault. The record companies don't know you. They know of you, but they are more into pop. I don't know. I think right now, I would rather do my own thing. I can go ahead and finish it and then put it out there. If one company is not interested, I can move on to another. I would like to make a record with straight ahead things, some things that I wanted to do for a long time. It would not be commercial. There would be some things that I felt I hadn't finished from a long time ago. It is just a matter of finding the right musicians. Most of the time, when you find the right musicians, they are working with somebody else or they are very expensive to use and I can't afford to use them. It bothers me. I remember when some of the musicians weren't making a lot of money and now they are very, very popular and well known. I don't know how I can use them anymore. I do the best I can. A lot of the agencies don't get good paying jobs so I have to make things work some kind of way. I would rather work in Europe. It is better money. What I have been getting now is people want to use me in different bands. They want to use me as a guest. I would rather use my own band. The money is OK, but I don't want to make a whole lot of money. I just want a band and keep them working, people that I like and who I think a lot of. Once my band is happy, then I am happy.

FJ: And the future?

PS: Just a while ago, just a few months ago, I got a call to work in the Jazz Bakery. I am looking at October to go in there for the first time. I want to get a bassist from back in New York and a drummer. That is going to be costly, so maybe I can get a bassist.

FJ: Call Roberto Miranda.

PS: I have never heard of him.

FJ: Roberto has the vocabulary of Mingus and the get up of Henry Grimes.

PS: See, it is funny, the guys from here that I work with, they don't tell me about nobody around here. Nobody tells me what is going on around here. I don't go out unless I am working. A few guys tell me to check this guy out and he ends up being a bassist that somebody else is close to everyday and that is their buddy and I don't like dealing with stuff like that. I have problems with stuff like that. I want the best there is around here.

FJ: Roberto is the best in LA.

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