Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pharoah Sanders - Village Of The Pharoahs

Album - Village of The Pharoahs
Recorded - 1973

Pharoah Sanders' impulse! albums of the late 1960s and early 1970s are some of the best examples of the free jazz genre ever comitted to vinyl; from the full-on freak out of 'Izipho Zam' to the classic freedom-on-acid 'Karma' (home of 'The Creator Has A Masterplan'). 'Village of the Pharoahs' comes from the 1973 album of the same name. This was comparatively late in his impulse! career and as such is now relatively unappreciated. If anyone connected with impulse! records is reading, get this album a CD release now.

Stylistically the track leans more towards the funky free-jazz end of Sanders' style, with the addition of a mystical edge in the presence of tamboura and shakuhashi (a type of japanese flute that creates an otherworldly, ethereal sound). Bass and percussion set up a hard-edged groove over the tamboura's drone before the theme is stated by the piano. Sanders enters on soprano with a wailing melody - emboldened by this strong introduction, he goes on to play with great passion and intensity for the next 12 or so minutes. His style is instantly recognisable, the shreiks and wails associated with his music are very much in evidence, but are kept under control at all times and fit well within the confines of the ever-shifting rhthymic backing. Towards the end of the piece things get a bit quieter, with Sanders trading vocal lines with guest Sedatrius Brown. The piece closes with the tamboura and percussion of the opening section, but slowed down many times, continuing the mystical air of the piece right to the end.

In my opinion this is one of Sanders' finest moments, in terms both of his individual performance and the group dynamic (sound and feeling conveyed). It also has the distinction of being one of the only Quadrophonic records that I own, not that I have the music system to do that justice.

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