Pharoah Sanders, one of the most wildly inventive figures in jazz who wrestled his saxophone to its limits and felt equally at home in Indian and African music, died on Saturday. He was 81.
His record label, Luaka Bop, said he died peacefully around friends and family in Los Angeles.
“Always and forever the most beautiful human being, may he rest in peace,” a label statement said.
Taking the open-mindedness of the free jazz movement to new heights, Sanders would virtually attack his saxophone by heavily overblowing on the mouthpiece — of which he collected hundreds — as well as biting the reed and even shouting into the bell of the instrument.
Sanders, a disciple of John Coltrane, who played aggressive solos on the jazz master’s classic late-career “Live in Japan” album, was often seen as a sort of successor to the global-minded legend after Coltrane’s sudden death in 1967.
Ornette Coleman — arguably the most important pioneer of free jazz — called Sanders “probably the best tenor player in the world.”
But Sanders, who to a lesser extent played soprano and alto sax as well, also divided audiences and never reached quite the same commercial success as Coltrane, Coleman or other historic jazz innovators.
With solos that built from screeching and squawking to silky and melodic, Sanders was described as a godfather of spiritual or even cosmic jazz, although the reticent musician brushed aside labels.
His best-known works included “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” a nearly 33-minute track off his “Karma” album on which Sanders sounds as if he is exorcising demons, before reaching back to a heavenly state.
Leon Thomas sings on the track, released in 1969 at the apex of counterculture, with the lines, “The creator has a master plan / Peace and happiness for every man.”
“Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt,” off Sanders’ influential 1967 “Tauhid” album, builds off guitar twangs and a gentle xylophone paying tribute to African tradition as Sanders storms in with a saxophone that sounds like tortured howls.
– Seeing saxophone as self –
“I don’t really see the horn anymore. I’m trying to see myself,” he said in the liner notes to “Tauhid,” his first album on the Impulse! label that put out Coltrane.
“And similarly, as to the sounds I get, it’s not that I’m trying to scream on my horn, I’m just trying to put all my feelings into the horn,” he said.
Farrell Sanders — he changed his first name’s spelling at the encouragement of futuristic jazz composer Sun Ra — was born and raised in segregated Little Rock, Arkansas, where he played clarinet in a school band and explored jazz from touring artists.
He moved after high school to Oakland, California, where for the first time he enjoyed the freedom to attend racially mixed clubs and had a fateful first meeting with Coltrane as they shopped for mouthpieces.
He later headed to New York where he at times fell into homelessness, working as a cook and even selling his blood to survive.
He met Sun Ra while cooking at a Greenwich Village club. Discovering his musical talent, Sun Ra and Coltrane enlisted Sanders as a band member, with Sanders coming into his own as a band leader after Coltrane’s death.
Describing his style in a 1996 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Sanders said: “I have a dark sound; a lot of the younger guys have a bright sound, but I like a dark sound with more roundness, more depth and feeling in it,” he said.
“I want my sound to be like a fragrance that people will like — something fresh, like the smell of your grandmother’s cake cooking,” he said.
– Spiritual explorations –
Sanders — distinctive in his later years for his long white beard and fez cap — dabbled in pop music, starting with 1971’s “Thembi,” named after his wife.
But his mainstream direction was brief and he often found more musical kinship outside the United States. On 1969’s “Jewels of Thought,” Sanders explored mysticism from across Africa, opening with a Sufi meditation for peace.
Decades later on “The Trance of Seven Colors,” Sanders collaborated with Mahmoud Guinia, the Moroccan master of the spiritual gnawa music and of the guembri lute.
Sanders’ 1996 album “Message from Home” delved into the influences of sub-Saharan Africa including highlife, the pop mix of Western and traditional music that originated in Ghana.
He also explored Indian form with his collaborations with Alice Coltrane, the jazz master’s second wife, who became a yogi.
Sanders voiced the most admiration for Indian musicians, including Bismillah Khan, who brought a wider audience to the shehnai, a type of oboe played frequently at processions on the subcontinent, and Ravi Shankar, who made the sitar international.
Sanders, accustomed to the sharing of energy within jazz bands, described Indian musicians as achieving “pure music.”
“Nobody is trying to cut each other’s throat. There’s no ego,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Describing his own music, he said: “I want to take the audience on a spiritual journey; I want to stir them up, excite them. Then I bring them back with a calming feeling.”
American Singer, Mariah Carey Publishes Children’s Book Ahead Of Yuletide Season
Popular American songstress, Mariah Carey is making moves to cement her self-acclaimed title as the Queen of Christmas.
The singer has kick-started the Yuletide celebrations by releasing the holiday themed children’s book titled ‘Christmas Princess’.
In an interview with Tonight’s Show Jimmy Fallon on Friday, the pop icon spoke about the book, which hit the shelves on November 1.
Co-written by Michaela Angela Davis, the story which follows the life of a 12-year-old child, Little Mariah, who embarks on a journey to discover “the healing power of her voice,” and “spread the spirit of Christmas at home and all around the world.”
Carey also revealed she would be holding a Christmas-themed concert by the 11th of December at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.
The “All I Want For Christmas is You” crooner will afterwards hold another show on December 13, at Madison Square Garden, New York.
Back in August, Mariah Carey tried to trademark the term, “Queen of Christmas” but was met with fierce resistance by two other singers, Darlene Love and Elizabeth Chan, who are also known for their popular Christmas releases.
Chan, who is known for releasing only Christmas-themed tracks filed an opposition to the trademark application in August.
Afrobeat Singer, Made Kuti Announces Engagement To Girlfriend
Afrobeat singer, Made Kuti, has engaged his girlfriend, Inedoye.
He made this known via his Instagram account late Tuesday.
The singer said he could not wait to build a future with Inedoye, adding that even though there was pain in the world, life was still worth living with her.
Excited that she accepted his proposal, Made said, “She said YES! @__inedoye Newest Fiancé and Fiancée in town 🙏🏿❤
There’s a lot of pain in the world everyday. But sharing that pain and fighting for a better world with you makes it all worth living for. I can’t wait to see the future we build together. I love you ❤.”
Quite a number of celebrities, including his father, Femi Kuti, congratulated the both of them.
“Congratulations to you both,” singer Korede Bello also wrote on Made’s comment section.
Made, Fela Kuti’s grandson is also songwriter and instrumentalist. He released his debut album titled Forward in 2021.
Migos Group Rapper, Takeoff, Shot Dead In Houston
The rapper Takeoff, a member of the Grammy-nominated hip hop trio Migos, was fatally shot at a bowling alley in Houston, Texas on Tuesday, according to entertainment outlet TMZ. He was 28 years old.
Born Kirshnik Khari Ball, he was playing dice with fellow Migos member Quavo at around 2:30 am, TMZ said. Houston police said they reported to a shooting overnight and one person was dead at the scene, but would not confirm the victim’s identity until the family had been notified.
Two other people were shot and taken to area hospitals in private vehicles, police said.
According to TMZ, Quavo was not hurt.
The entertainment outlet said Takeoff and Quavo were playing dice when “an altercation broke out and that’s when someone opened fire, shooting Takeoff.”
A couple of hours prior to the shooting, Takeoff had posted a selfie from what appeared to be the bowling alley.
The venue, 810 Billiards & Bowling, said they would be closed on Tuesday.
Early tributes rolled in as news of the death spread on social media, including from Congressman Jamaal Bowman, who tweeted “Sending love to Takeoff’s loved ones. I’m tired of seeing young Black men die.”
– ‘Bad and Boujee’ –
Born in Lawrenceville, Georgia on June 18, 1994, Takeoff was best known for his membership in Migos along with Quavo, his uncle, and Offset, his cousin who today is married to fellow rapper Cardi B.
“Growing up, I was trying to make it in music. I was grinding, which is just what I loved doing,” Takeoff said in a 2017 interview with The Fader. “Just making something and creating for me.”
“I was getting my own pleasure out of it, because it’s what I liked doing. I’d wait for Quavo to get back from football practice and I’d play my songs for him.”
The Atlanta-based Migos soared to prominence off their viral 2013 song “Versace,” which Drake remixed.
It was 2016’s smash hit “Bad and Boujee” that first saw them hit number one.
The trio, managed by hip hop powerhouse Coach K, is considered widely influential in bringing contemporary Southern trap, a popular and influential rap sub-genre, to the mainstream.
Following their debut album “Yung Rich Nation” in 2015, they debuted atop the Billboard top albums chart with their sophomore album “Culture.”
After inking a deal with Motown and Capitol Records in 2017, they followed up with “Culture II,” once again hitting the chart’s top spot.
In 2021, they completed the trilogy with “Culture III.”
Quavo and Takeoff, who have been performing as a duo, had recently released a new music video for the track “Messy.”
“I’m doing some melodic stuff. Even Quavo, he usually does the melodic things and I rap more, but we’re going back to the roots,” Takeoff had told the outlet Complex this fall.