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Pharoah Sanders at the Jazz Bakery

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Pharoah Sanders sound is free, modal and very impressionistic. I have few of my favorite things as well and one of them is music played with passion and love in the spirit of Trane. The trio sounds so resilient like warm waves of cascading water over you body on tropical shores. Trevor Ware is on bass and his solos lyrically translate into the most welcoming and loving phrases in any language. His work on the bow sings so romantically that I had to lean over and kiss my girl! Michael Stephan’s heart for artistic expression is all up in the music and his humbleness allows him to listen and fill the space with magical trinkets of rhythm. William Henderson is a multi-talented individual with piano being only one of the instruments on his list. He plays some seriously beautiful seamless runs and provides the continuum for a bed of never ending creativity.

Tonight’s audience is definitely a listening and appreciating one. The Jazz Bakery is absolutely silent, letting the music fill with air an all the intricate details are revealed. The spiritual chant of Los Angeles’s vocalese master Dwight Trible is not just a voice, but he provides the tones an unusually gorgeous instrument. A golden voice that passionately soars with reality and sounds like no other. A man gifted with a charisma that grabs you, sits you down to hear the message as he sings and calls out the sinister within, purifying human souls with love and hope for unity among all people.

As Pharoah would say, “The Creator does have a Master Plan”. One that involves music, expression and a search for all sounds in the universe. Pharoah made some notes on his horn that I personally have never heard before. They were hollow like the sound of a drum. You have to appreciate some one who takes an instrument to its limits and then says now let’s see what you can do. If there was no pursuit for the extreme, if musicians just colored in between the lines, then you would not be challenged to think and life would come to a halt. “If a Nightingale Sang This Way” then every morning, beautiful sounds would inhibit our beings influencing our lives with smiles of joy and happiness leading us to a perfect path of peaceful life on a blissful planet.

This music tells stories with a vast pallet and paints its own pictures on your cognitive music canvas. As Pharoah stepped aside to let his trio take over, he would take a walk upstairs in the balcony and look down upon the music from a different perspective. Appreciating and perhaps coming across new ideas or approaches to the music, he would go back downstairs, get back on stage and instantly those expressions are shared with us. That’s creative power and imagination and instant gratification for his audience.

“Thembi” has a warm and classic melody and is an all-time favorite. As Pharoah introduces the band, signifying the close of his set, he dances and emphatically gets the audience to roar for each of the musicians. It is fun to share in that comradely. As the show closes, Pharoah strikes a bowl and the resonating sound fills the room and penetrates the bodies of a still and silent audience. One of the most loving closings I have ever experienced. A musical prayer and blessing for us to go forth in peace and harmony.

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LeRoy Downs

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