Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pharoah Sanders "Karma"

While more "accessible" than the later work of Sanders' mentor John Coltrane this is not without its challenges for those who are just discovering post-bop, free jazz. To the uninitiated, what starts out as the sonic equivalent of freeing one's mind of the outer world in preparation to achieving a meditative state that meander beautifully to a kind of rapture, will only hear this as chaos on top of melody with chaos winning the battle until the end when we,re brought back to melodic nod to Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" that started out the set. However, on repeated listens, you will discover the sheer joy and power of love of Sanders' life philosophy: "The Creator has a master plan/Peace and happiness for every man."

There are some stellar performances from the other musicians, most notably Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, Reggie Workman and Richard Davis on bass, James Spaulding on flute, Nathaniel Bettis on percussion and, of course, the vocals of Leon Thomas!

Oddly, my MCA/Impulse issue on vinyl, listS 3 tracks on the cover: "The Creator Has a Master Plan" (19:20) on the A-side, "The Light of Love" which is nowhere to be found in all the Pharoah Sanders discographies I searched, and "Colors" (19:17). The timing on "Colors" is erroneous as the B-side opens with the second half of "The Creator..." leaving "colors" to finish out the side at about five and a half minutes. As an 11-year-old kid in the 60's, this album along with A Love Supreme, and Miles in the Sky opened my mind and became the standards for what jazz-as-art should sound like.



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