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Profiling Pharoah Sanders, An American Jazz Saxophonist

American jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders performs at the


Improvisational composer Pharoah Sanders, a jazz saxophonist, was born Farrell Sanders on October 13, 1940, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sanders, an only child, was raised by his mother, who worked as a chef in a school cafeteria, and his father, who worked for the City of Little Rock. They were also musical and taught him the fundamentals of music.

Sanders began music lessons on the clarinet at a young age and continued through high school, when he added the saxophone. He also had a strong interest in painting. In 1959, he graduated from North Little Rock High School, which was segregated.


Sanders traveled to Oakland, California, after getting his graduation, and attended Oakland Junior College, where he studied Fine Art and music. He freelanced as a tenor saxophone in the Bay Area until 1962, hitched a ride to New York City, and founded his quintet with percussionist John Hicks and bassist Wilbur Ware in 1963, performing at New York’s Village Gate. Sanders was invited to join John Coltrane’s band in 1965, and was featured on Coltrane’s albums Ascension and Meditations.

Sanders signed with Impulse Records in 1966 and released his first studio album, Tauhid. He began experimenting with non-Western instruments and voice performance techniques in a more accessible context on this album.

Sanders recorded with John Coltrane’s widow, composer/harpist Alice Coltrane, after his death in 1967. Sanders returned to Impulse Records in 1969, releasing the album Karma (spiritual jazz), which peaked at number 188 on Billboard’s Top 200 jazz albums chart and remained there for four weeks. In 1971, he released the albums Black Unity and Thembi, the latter of which was named after his South African wife and peaked at number 175 on the jazz albums chart for three weeks.

Sanders released his most popular album, Love Will Find a Way, on the Arista label in 1977. In 1978, it peaked at No. 163 and stayed there for 5 weeks. Shukuru, named for his second wife, was published on the Theresa label in 1981. Sanders & McCoy Tyner, Roy Haynes, Cecil McBee, and David Murray received a Grammy Award for Blues for their album Coltrane: A Tribute to John Coltrane in 1988.

Sanders traveled to Morocco in 1994 to work with Moroccan musician Mahmoud Guinia on the Bill Laswell-produced album The Trance of Seven Colors. On Verve Records, he released Message from Home in 1995 and Save Our Children in 1998.

Sanders published Spirits in 2000, followed by The Creator Has a Master Plan in 2003. Sanders received the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Master Award in 2015. (NEA). It was the highest jazz honor in the United States.

Pharoah Saunders, 81, who has released more than 30 albums in his career, recorded Promises in 2021 after an almost 20-year break.


Written by How Africa News

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