January 2, 2017

Pharoah Sanders - Black Unity (1972)


My favorite Pharoah Sanders album and also one of my top three free jazz albums. Karma is good, but Black Unity is the best (and don't trip and say Izipho Zam or Deaf Dumb Blind competes with either of these). Karma is the more mystical and spiritual of the two and features keener segmentation on The Creator Has A Maseter Plan. Black Unity is much earthier and energetic because of the direct and intense bass combo of Cecil McBee and Stanley Clarke. The single piece is essentially directed by the bass playing: the two begin by meditating on very similar melodies before gradually spreading out into their own free space. These bass melodies cycle back to each other before the album wraps up--probably the most wondrous and satisactory end phases of any lengthy free jazz piece. The drumming (aided by a West African xylophone-type instrument) is super explosive, but is also kinetic and never really ruminates on any single pattern or dynamic for too long. The horn players have no problem expressing themselves while the rhythm elements fire on all cylinders. All of their solos launch from a simple, yet epic introductory horn call and will most likely send goosebumps throughout your body. Deep, attaining, cathartic... simply out of this world.