The first official (allegedly) release of this album for over 30 years, Live At Antibes Jazz Festival Juan-Les-Pins July 21, 1968
captures Pharoah Sanders
on the cusp of stylistic change. It is a disc hardcore Sanders fans will treasure.
From 1965-1967, with his own bands and in those led by John Coltrane
, Sanders' paint-stripping sonics matched those of Albert Ayler
. But in 1967, on his second album as leader, Tauhid
(Impulse!), Sanders signalled a new direction. The disc combined the ferocities of tone and pitch heard on his debut, Pharoah
(ESP, 1965) and on Coltrane's Ascension
(Impulse!, 1965), with a new approach that was lyrical and sumptuous and glowing. The transition was completed on Sanders' third album, Karma
(Impulse!), released in 1969. By and large, Sanders has continued to follow the revised paradigm ever since (a notable exception being The Trance Of Seven Colors
, released on Axiom in 1994).
On Live At Antibes Jazz Festival Juan-Les-Pins July 21, 1968
, Sanders' lineup is a transitional one. Lonnie Liston Smith
, who would go into the studio with Sanders for the first time four months later to record Karma
, was best known at the time for mellifluous cosmic jazz going on jazz-funk. Bassist Sirone
and drummer Najeed Shabazz were card-carrying members of New York's avant-garde. Sanders himself is still mostly in pre-Tauhid
, ESP mode. Against expectations perhaps, Smith acquits himself well in such fast company. (Without wishing to tarnish Smith's name by association, one is reminded that the noodling smooth-jazz pianist Bob James
recorded an album, Explosions
, for ESP in 1965.)
The set list is transitional, too, even if the band's performance is not. Side one is taken up by a tumultuous, untitled jam. Adjust your headphones, please. On paper, side two looks more lyrical, but the treatment of "Venus," from Tauhid
, and "The Creator Has A Master Plan," which would appear the following year on Karma
in a much gentler version, is full-on fierce. As with John Coltrane and Miles Davis
' paradigm shifts in the 1960s, Sanders' was not simultaneously revealed on record and in performance. The world turns faster in 2019. Live At Antibes Jazz Festival Juan-Les-Pins July 21, 1968
was recorded for broadcast by German radio station WDR3, from whose tapes this album originated (as did, presumably, the bootleg CD that was released in Europe by Hi-Hat Records in 2018).