All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Pharoah Sanders Plays with Fire

Rex  Butters By

Sign in to view read count
Lovingly touring jazz history whenever he plays, Sanders swings from channeling Coleman Hawkins to creating the future within measures.
As wildfires raged around LA, the Pharoah Sanders Vocal Quartet incinerated the Jazz Bakery. The legendary tenor player brought heat from most of his distinguished career. Lovingly touring jazz history whenever he plays, Sanders swings from channeling Coleman Hawkins to creating the future within measures. Members of his touring unit accompanied Sanders, as well as LA mainstay Roberto Miranda on bass. Miranda’s streaming imagination and athletic technique bring out the best in whatever group he participates. Longtime associate William Henderson played piano. Henderson’s performed and recorded with Sanders for more than a decade, fans will remember him from the Verve recordings. Apart from their rapport, Henderson’s flowing inventions and grace within technically tough soloing situations made him a compelling performer. Drummer Kharon Harrison counts Billy Higgins, Ndugu Chancellor and Stevie Wonder as mentors. With LA vocalist Dwight Tribble added to the mix, an extra dimension of soul/gospel/joy manifested in the music.

Sleek in a black suit with deep purple shirt, Sanders played a duet intro with Henderson that grew into Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Tribble’s soaring baritone came in with the band. Any room in which he sings becomes a church. Although powerfully straightforward and soulful, Sanders ended piece with effective multiphonics. They followed with a straight-ahead piece that showed off Sanders’ rich toned expressive style. He built his elegant solos on multiphonic root notes. With the rhythm section working the heat, Henderson swept through with a flurry of fingers. Keeping time and then some Miranda demonstrated why he’s a treasure.

What seemed like a promising start blossomed with the Henderson and Miranda playing the bass line from “A Love Supreme.” Tribble sang an affecting intro (his own lyrics?), and Pharoah unleashed a torrent of classic Pharoahisms from the harsh to the sublime. His extended solo built a city of sonic edifices. Henderson followed whipping small complex storms on the keyboard. Miranda solo referenced the familiar bass line between intense flights of improvisation. Harrison started with playful variations and exploded into an avalanche of beats. The band returned with Tribble testifying and Sanders just offstage shouting him on and answering his cries.

After an impassioned finale, where could they go but a ballad? Sanders introduced “Midnight in Berkeley Square,” a tune recorded on Save the Children. Tribble emoted vocally, and Henderson ambled through easily. Harrison dusted with brushes, and Miranda bowed the bass and the heartstrings. Sanders returned to open a catalogue of variations. Although the evening had developed a palpable magic by this point, Sanders’ exuberance took it higher with “Freedom.” He opened with joyful shrieks, and continued with stratospheric tones, dancing between turns. Dense r&b inspired wails gave way to call and response vocals with Tribble, bringing the audience to their feet.

After a brief intermission, the band returned for another straight-ahead romp. Pharoah’s solo moved briskly through inventions, while Henderson’s drove the rhythm section through the scenic route. “Body and Soul” received a thoughtful reading from Tribble who also sang scat improvisations. Sanders treated the chestnut to rough tones and long silky lines. A sprightly mid-tempo Caribbean flavored number found Sanders dancing again, employing circular breathing, and tonelessly playing the saxophone keys as percussion. Finally, “The Creator Has A Master Plan” took the band out on a gentle groove. Tribble delivered the inspired lyrics and Pharoah capped it with arpeggios that create the Sanders shimmer.

It was a remarkable night for a remarkable talent. Sanders enthusiastically reasserted his position as one of the world’s master instrumentalists with a band fully in on the mission.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club Live Reviews
Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club
by Gareth Thomas
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Like A Jazz Machine 2017" Live Reviews Like A Jazz Machine 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Sur Ecoute at The Bronx Bar & 'Cue" Live Reviews Sur Ecoute at The Bronx Bar & 'Cue
by Barry Witherden
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Wayne Shorter Quartet at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Wayne Shorter Quartet at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: May 2, 2017
Read "Berlin Jazzfest 2017" Live Reviews Berlin Jazzfest 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: June 18, 2017