Review: Back in 1994, legendary tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders joined forces with celebrated "gnawa" musician Maleem Mahmoud Ghania and producer Bill Laswell for an album of far-sighted jazz experiments. For some reason "The Trance Of Seven Colors" was never released on vinyl at the time, meaning that this double LP reissue is a genuine first. The set itself still sounds as fresh and otherworldly as it did back in the 1990s, offering a unique and otherworldly fusion of traditional Moroccan instrumentation, vocals and rhythms, freestyle jazz improvisations and cosmic production from the effervescent Laswell. We can't think of many other albums that are quite like it, which is high praise indeed.
Review: Although "Africa" is not one of the harder Pharoah Sanders albums to find on vinyl, jazz heads have long complained about the sound quality of the original single-vinyl edition of the 1987 album. It's for this reason that this Tidal Waves Music reissue, which stretches the set across two slabs of wax and adds two previously CD-only tracks ("Heart To Heart" and "Duo"), will simply fly off the shelves. That and the fact that it remains a superb album: a bright, breezy, contemporary jazz masterpiece that sees the legendary saxophonist accompanied by drummer Idris Muhammad, pianist John Hicks and bassist Curtis Lundy. Highlights include the arguably definitive version of Sanders' classic "You've Got To Have Freedom" and a superb update of John Coltrane standard "Naima".
Review: Recorded in 1969 but first released in 1973, "Izipho Zam (My Gifts)" remains one of Pharoah Sanders' most expressive, out-there and enjoyable sets. As this fresh, heavyweight vinyl pressing proves, the album has lost none of its charm. It sees Sanders and his expansive backing band (including Lonnie Liston-Smith on piano) offer up a fine saunter through spiritual soul-jazz ("Prince Of Peace") before going all-out free jazz via two of the most intense and mind-altering workouts you'll ever hear. While the 13-minute "Balance" is a cacophonous and paranoid romp through free-jazz/experimental rock fusion, it's near 30-minute B-side "Izipho Zam" that stands out. Seemingly in a constant state of flux, the piece moves from densely percussive Afro-jazz to wall-of-sound noise-jazz insanity without skipping a beat.
Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing of any serious jazz enthusiast: a recently rediscovered recording of a live performance made by the Pharoah Sanders Quartet at the Grand Auditorium at Studio 104, Paris, in 1975. The tenor saxophonist is undoubtedly the star of the show throughout, though the fluidity of the double bass playing, the loose-limbed drumming and the rush-inducing breeziness of the piano parts - especially on "Love Is Here" parts one and two, which reminded us of another Sanders classic "You've Got To Have Freedom" - are all equally as ear-catching. Musically, it's as inspired as you'd expect, nestling somewhere between the great maestro's greatest "astral jazz" recordings and more traditional forms of jazz.