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The Pharoah of Free Jazz

Pharoah Sanders painted vast canvases of sound that resonate with the ethos of free jazz. When we talk about the evolution of this genre, Sanders stands tall, and his collaborative odyssey with the legendary John Coltrane remains a pivotal chapter in this narrative.

Pharoah’s early explorations into music were rooted in traditional jazz and rhythm & blues. However, it was his move to New York City in the early 1960s that saw him cross paths with the avant-garde jazz movement, leading him to embrace the uncharted territories of free jazz.

The union of Sanders with John Coltrane in 1965 marked a turning point in jazz history. Coltrane, already a monumental figure in jazz, was venturing deeper into experimental sounds, and in Sanders, he found a kindred spirit.

Together, Sanders and Coltrane explored the realms of overblowing, multiphonics, and other extended techniques, crafting soundscapes that transcended conventional structures. Their collaboration resulted in iconic albums like “Ascension,” “Meditations,” and “Kulu Sé Mama.” These recordings stand as milestones, showcasing their collective improvisational prowess and their ability to weave dense, textured sounds.

With Coltrane, Sanders was not just a side player. He was an integral voice, adding layers of intensity and often pushing the boundaries of harmony, rhythm, and melody.

Post-Coltrane, Sanders continued to be a torchbearer for free jazz. His albums, such as “Karma” and “Tauhid,” further showcased his affinity for spiritual and meditative themes, melded with the fierce intensity of his saxophone.

While he was deeply rooted in the avant-garde, Sanders never limited himself. He embraced a wide palette of sounds, from African rhythms to more melodic structures, making his work both eclectic and deeply personal.

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