January 10, 2016

Pharoah Sanders - Thembi (1971)

Pharoah Sanders briefly got his start in the forefront of the jazz scene by playing in the Sun Ra Arkestra (who christened him Pharoah) before becoming a pupil of John Coltrane; playing on his most adventurous works: Meditations, Ascension, and Om as well as share the stage with him on many live recordings. Thembi is the odd album out in Sander's golden age discography. Most of his albums from this period were made up of two or three massive spiritual free jazz forays that blow your ears and soul out of the water with how grand they are, but Pharoah cuts 6 smaller tracks that feature more accessible melodicism on Thembi. The recordings are still spiritually charged and breathtakingly beautiful and this proves that Pharoah is a well-rounded musician with a lot of effective tactics at his hands. The lineup and instrumentation on Thembi is similar to that of his other recordings from this time period, and keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith especially provides a backbone for the sweet and gentle atmosphere. Another fantastic Pharoah Sanders album from the early 1970s that remains an essential while maybe not acting as his most representative work.