Long live Pharoah

pharoah illustration

There’s really only one thing I’ve been listening to over the past week, and that’s Pharoah Sander’s 1977 album Pharoah, which was just released ahead of the anniversary of his death last year.

The most hypnotic piece of music released so far in 2023 was recorded forty-seven years ago in a barely adequate studio in Rockland County, New York. Somewhere between minimalist meditation and impassioned slow jam, “Harvest Time” features a tenor saxophonist improvising over a spare, minor-key theme, drifting in and out against a backdrop of electric guitar, bass, and harmonium. It’s a work of atmospheric, almost tactile beauty, whose pleasures lie in the texture of the playing as much as the melody itself: the liquid warmth of the guitar, the vibrations of the harmonium, the saxophonist’s vibrato and breath, the cycle of sound and sound’s decay.

That’s from Feel-Ins, Know-Ins, Be-Ins, and, as noted on Longreads, you should read it while you “cue up the song so you can experience them together. One of the most pleasing multimedia experiences you’ll have this week.”

I couldn’t agree more.

For more spellbinding Pharoah, be sure to listen to the Promises album, made just a year before he passed (one of my favorite albume of that year). Also, the Red Hot on Impulse playlist contains a wealth of “spiritual jazz,” including Pharoah, that seems to fit so well with the equinox upon us and the seasons changing.

pharoah alone illustration
My own illustration here, based on this print, including the one at the top of the post 😉

Comments welcome!

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