Sunday, September 25, 2022

Goodbye Pharoah Sanders


It must have been in about 1990 when Disaster Amnesiac first got hip to the sounds of Pharoah Sanders via an LP picked up cheap at the Ohlone College flea market. I'd read about him in Val Wilmer's As Serious As Your Life, and as such would have been aware of his name. Pharoah's sounds hit this listener, as I'm sure they've done for millions of others, in some deeply spiritual spot. Seeing him a few years later at Yoshi's in Oakland confirmed to me that the man was putting out some deep vibes, ones which broke through the psychic gunk of daily postmodern life and into ones of a bit purer nature. John Coltrane, seeker of the sublime no matter what the consequences, surely heard same from young Pharoah. It strikes me that with his passing, the last of the 'Trane era woodwinds men have now shuffled off from this realm and into wherever it is that their spirits abscond to. In simpler terms, it's definitely a Goodbye 20th Century Event, as least for this wayward soul. During the insanity of 2020 and beyond, I found his LP Promises, done with  Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra, to be of tremendous help as I was imprisoned by government mandates. His tenor saxophone cries, somewhat weak from age and disease, matched the anguish that I felt as I watched my culture and the society in which it was contained crumble into.....something else. They fit that mood like a well worn coolie hat, blocking the hot tropical sun. Something else, yeah, that's what Pharoah Sanders was. This place may not even have deserved him, but he showed up anyway. The Creator still has a master plan.

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