Pharoah Sanders' Elevation was recorded in 1973, three years after Sanders' appearance on Alice Coltrane's Journey in Satchidananda, and shares much of the ambiance and sonic palette of that classic album. The similarity stems from the instrumentation, which is heavy on percussion like shakers and bell tree and which on several tracks includes the tamboura, an Indian string instrument whose drone immediately evokes that country and perhaps suggests an "elevated consciousness.
Elevation quickly ventures into some pretty bizarre and wild territory. The title track opens harmlessly enough with a rain-shower of cymbals and bells and a simple three-note sax figure that climbs the minor scale. But the piece soon devolves into an extended howling maelstrom of free play, a jazz representation of the inside of a Category 5 hurricane. The exuberant "Ore-Se-Rere is guided by a Caribbean-flavored piano vamp and is the first of two tracks with wordless syllables sung by the entire ensemble. The second is "The Gathering , whose celebratory piano opening, like the title track, gradually builds to a tempestuous free section with Sanders shrieking at the top of his horn. On "Spiritual Blessing , Sanders soars beautifully on soprano above a harmonium and droning tamboura, creating a placid, calming close to the record.
In 1966, Sanders honed some of his adventurous streak on Don Cherry's Where Is Brooklyn?, now reissued by Blue Note. The album came seven years after the trumpeter and cornetist played on Ornette Coleman's landmark The Shape of Jazz to Come and Brooklyn is a direct descendant of that record, using the same two-horn pianoless format. Typical of the style of the then "new music (as Coleman refers to it in the original liners) Cherry's compositions feature the horns in close coordination at the top and recap and a lot of freedom in between. Cherry and Sanders get into some extreme technique, as if they were pushing the physical limits of their horns and the instruments are crying for mercy. In the absence of a chordal instrument like a piano, Ed Blackwell on drums grounds their explorations, providing both form and forward movement.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Elevation; Greeting To Saud (Brother McCoy Tyner); Ore-Se-Rere; The Gathering; Spiritual Blessing
Personnel: John Blue: percussion; Joe Bonner: percussion, piano, harmonium, vocals, cowbell, wood flute; Sedatrius Brown: vocals; Michael Carvin: drums, vocals; Calvin Hill: bass, vocals, tamboura; Jimmy Hopps: percussion; Lawrence Killian: percussion, Conga, Vocals, bell tree; Kenneth Nash: percussion; Pharoah Sanders: flute, Percussion, soprano sax; tenor sax; vocals, bells, shaker; Michael White: violin.
Where is Brooklyn?
Tracks: Awake Nu; Taste Maker; Thing; There is the Bomb; Unite.
Personnel: Don Cherry: cornet; Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone, piccolo; Henry Grimes: bass; Ed Blackwell: drums.