Careers That Trane Built: Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane


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Pharoah Sanders
The Impulse Story

Alice Coltrane
The Impulse Story

If Impulse was "the house that Trane built , as author Ashley Kahn titled his book about the label's history, then Pharoah Sanders and the late Alice Coltrane were the two musicians most closely associated with the man himself. When Coltrane chose Sanders to play beside him, he invited scorn on the part of listeners who didn't want the young man's wild animalistic overblowing interfering with the master. Alice Coltrane had her own daunting task: to replace the irreplaceable McCoy Tyner, being forced to prove herself as something other than the Yoko Ono of jazz.

The two had made music before Trane took them on, but these volumes in Verve's Impulse Story series of single-disc artist anthologies attempt to summarize the work they did under their own names, heavily personalized and original but unavoidably influenced by Coltrane's spiritual approach to jazz and life itself. Sanders' output is summed up in four tracks, but you could argue that it could be done in one, since the half-hour of "The Creator Has a Master Plan represents the totality of Sanders' signature sound: swirling multi-instrumentation, shifting African and Indian rhythms, Leon Thomas' quasi-religious lyrics and patented improvised yodeling and the leader's serene passages contrasted with cathartic primal screams. By this measure, the inclusion of "Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt (Tauhid), "Astral Traveling (Thembi) and "Spiritual Blessing (Elevation) are added extras, making this compilation near-definitve, and a smarter buy for the newcomer than Karma.

After she was widowed at age 30, the musicians in (and just outside) Coltrane's circle rallied around Alice Coltrane. Pharoah Sanders, Jimmy Garrison, Rashied Ali, Ron Carter, Joe Henderson, Cecil McBee and Ben Riley all appear in various configurations on the tracks from 1968-1970 included in this chapter of The Impulse Story. Journey in Satchidananda (represented here by the title composition) may be the apotheosis of Coltrane's cascading, liquid style: shimmering lines on piano or harp floating on tidal rhythms that travel back and forth between bass and drums. But the inclusion of the lovely, transporting early work (from A Monastic Trio), the string-thick "Universal Consciousness and excerpt from Stravinsky's "The Firebird and "Translinear Light , marking Alice Coltrane's return to recording in 2004, add up to a champagne compilation.

Tracks and Personnel

Pharoah Sanders: The Impulse Story

Tracks: Upper Egypt And Lower Egypt; The Creator Has A Master Plan; Astral Traveling; Spiritual Blessing

Personnel: Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone (1,2), soprano saxophone (3,4), piccolo (1), vocal (1), percussion (1,3); Dave Burrell: piano (1); Sonny Sharrock: electric guitar (1); Henry Grimes: bass (1); Nat Bettis: percussion (1,2); Roger Blank: drums (1); Julius Watkins: French horn (2); James Spaulding: flute (2); Lonnie Liston Smith: piano (2), electric piano (3); Richard Davis: bass (2); Reggie Workman: bass (2); Billy Hart: drums (2); Leon Thomas: vocal and percussion (2); Michael White: violin (3); Cecil McBee: bass (3); Clifford Jarvis: drums (3); Joe Bonner: harmonium (4); Calvin Hill: tamboura (4); Lawrence Killian: bell tree (4); John Blue and Jimmy Hopps: percussion (4); Michael Carvin: drums (4)

Alice Coltrane: The Impulse Story

Tracks: The Sun; Lovely Sky Boat; Jaya Jaya Rama; Ptah, The El Daoud; Journey in Satchidananda; Universal Consciousness; Excerpts From The Firebird; Transliner Light

Personnel: Track 1: Alice Coltrane: piano; Pharoah Sanders: flute, invocation; Jimmy Garrison: bass; unknown: percussion; Ben Riley: drums; John Coltrane: invocation. Track 2: Alice Coltrane: harp; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Rashied Ali: drums. Track 3: Alice Coltrane: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Rashied Ali: drums, percussion. Track 4: Alice Coltrane: piano; Joe Henderson: tenor saxophone; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone; Ron Carter: bass; Chuck Stewart: percussion; Ben Riley: drums. Track 5: Alice Coltrane: harp; Pharoah Sanders: soprano saxophone, percussion; Tulsi: tamboura; Cecil McBee: bass; Majid Shabazz: bells, tambourine; Rashied Ali: drums. Track 6: Alice Coltrane: harp, organ, string arranger; John Blair, Julius Brand, Leroy Jenkins, Joan Kalisch: violins; Jimmy Garrison: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums; Ornette Coleman: transcription. Track 7: Alice Coltrane: organ, harp, percussion, tympani, arranger, conductor; Ben Riley: drums, percussion; Charlie Haden: bass; Ronald Folsom, James Getzoff, Janice Gower, William Henderson, Nathan Kaproff, Lou Klass, Bernard Kundell, Leonard Malarsky, Gordon Marron, Sidney Sharp, Gerald Vinci: violins; Marilyn Baker, Samuel Boghosian, Rolice Dale, Myra Kestenbaum, Leonard Selic, David Schwartz: violas; Jesse Ehrich, Anne Goodman, Ray Kelley, Jan Kelly, Jerry Kessler, Raphael Kramer, Edgar Lustgarten: cellos. Track 8: Alice Coltrane: piano; Ravi Coltane: soprano saxophone, percussion; Charlie Haden: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums

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