The Creator makes but one demand: vote for your favorite Pharoah Sanders album

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Options are limited to albums where the Pharoah has top billing (so no Journey In Satchidananda). I've only heard 4 of these, so I don't really feel qualified to vote. Is his post-Impulse! output any good?

Poll Results

Karma (1969) 13
Izipho Zam (My Gifts) (recorded 1969, released 1973) 5
Thembi (1971) 3
Deaf Dumb Blind (Summun Bukmun Umyun) (1970) 3
Jewels of Thought (1969) 2
Tauhid (1966) 2
Black Unity (1972) 2
Message from Home (1996) 1
Pharoah (1977) 1
Elevation (1974) 1
Wisdom Through Music (1973) 1
Journey to the One (1980) 1
Live at the East (1972) 1
Welcome to Love (1991) 0
Crescent with Love (1994) 0
Naima (1995) 0
Moon Child (1989) 0
Save Our Children (1998) 0
Spirits (2000) 0
Pharaoh (1965) 0
The Creator Has a Master Plan (2003) 0
With a Heartbeat (with Graham Haynes)(2003) 0
Africa (1987) 0
Oh Lord, Let Me Do No Wrong (1987) 0
A Prayer Before Dawn (1987) 0
Live at the East (1972) 0
Village of the Pharoahs (1973) 0
Love in Us All (1974) 0
Love Will Find a Way (1977) 0
Rejoice (1981) 0
Beyond a Dream (with Norman Connors)(1981) 0
Live (1982) 0
Heart is a Melody (1983) 0
Shukuru (1985) 0
Primative Jupiter (with The Underground)(2014) 0

macklemore looks something like you (unregistered), Saturday, 19 July 2014 21:47 (four years ago) Permalink

I've heard nearly all of these up to Africa, and all have good material for sure.
Save our Children is the Laswell one right? If so it's not good.

Dokken played here for a Ribfest and people were total assholes (Sparkle Motion), Saturday, 19 July 2014 21:50 (four years ago) Permalink

I have at least a dozen, but it's hard to beat Karma

good excuse to re-listen

sleeve, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:02 (four years ago) Permalink

Can't believe this poll is popping up now—I literally spent the last 3 weeks or so listening to his entire catalog for an upcoming magazine article. Everything on this list from Tauhid through Izipho Zam is glorious and totally essential. Everything from Elevation through Naima ranges from disappointing to dire. (A Prayer Before Dawn includes a sax-and-synth version of "The Greatest Love Of All.") This poll should have included Trance Of Seven Colors, which was co-billed to Sanders and Maleem Mahmoud Ghania—it's him blowing totally over-the-top rawness with traditional North African musicians backing him, and it's fucking awesome.

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:02 (four years ago) Permalink

super otm!! trance of 7 colors is in my top 5 sanders

probably karma though bc of complete transcendence

La Lechera, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:05 (four years ago) Permalink

it could be one of many but today it is Elevation

saer, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:13 (four years ago) Permalink

Deaf Dumb Blind is sounding good right now, but not as good as Karma

killer piano though

one of the pretty tracks on Thembi would probably be my fave single pick, but this is albums

sleeve, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:16 (four years ago) Permalink

I'm a big fan of Pharaoh (aka Harvest Time) tho it is much different than the Impulse stuff.

Dokken played here for a Ribfest and people were total assholes (Sparkle Motion), Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:18 (four years ago) Permalink

Between Tauhid and Thembi for me

odd proggy geezer (Moodles), Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:32 (four years ago) Permalink


the late great, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:33 (four years ago) Permalink

big fan of "Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord", the other side of Deaf Dumb Blind (Summun Bukmun Umyun) - the way the chords just hang there shimmering while the horns circle around.

( X '____' )/ (zappi), Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:39 (four years ago) Permalink

deaf dumb blind also great

the late great, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:42 (four years ago) Permalink

this thread has reminded me of this incredible footage of Pharaoh playing in an abandoned tunnel in San Francisco 1982 - when he goes into the circular breathing section in the middle, my god

( X '____' )/ (zappi), Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:51 (four years ago) Permalink

Treeship, Saturday, 19 July 2014 22:53 (four years ago) Permalink

sorry this is the one i wanted to post

Treeship, Saturday, 19 July 2014 23:03 (four years ago) Permalink

I love that footage in the tunnel and wish the version on Journey to the One was as good

saer, Saturday, 19 July 2014 23:27 (four years ago) Permalink

Just inherited a bwun of sanders LPs from my grandparents but won't get to hear them till I'm back in the UK so sadly can't vote for any of them this time. Will report back.

3kDk (dog latin), Sunday, 20 July 2014 04:10 (four years ago) Permalink


― the late great, Saturday, July 19, 2014 10:33 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Yeah, can't beat the Sharrock/Sanders combo. Would've voted for Ask the Ages if eligible. And Divine Raidance, the rec he made w/ Tisziji Munoz, Rashied Ali, Ravi Coltrane and erm Paul Shaffer, is a more interesting alb than anything he's released under his own name in years.

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Sunday, 20 July 2014 08:02 (four years ago) Permalink

Black Unity! Love when the group just jam at the end after all the skronking. I think I got this and <i>Sun Ship</i> the same day.

Liquid Plejades, Sunday, 20 July 2014 09:43 (four years ago) Permalink

Obviously I love all the early Impulse stuff, but I gotta go for Journey to One, because it shows that besides the free, over-blowing stuff he's best known for, he's also very good in a more restrained setting. I have no problem with the fusion-y vocal stuff on that album either, because I love that kind of jazz, and Pharoah with Idris Muhammad is simply a combo that cannot be beaten. It's true that the version of "Kazuko" on Journey to One isn't as jaw-dropping as that live version in the tunnel (which apparently has never been released on record?), but it's still among his 10 best tunes, such meditational beauty!

Tuomas, Sunday, 20 July 2014 11:11 (four years ago) Permalink

Meant to pick up a load of Pharaoh on my last London trip and only got Tauhid. THis after getting a new copy of that You've Got To have Freedom set at the end of last year. & that's got edited versions of some of the longer tracks on it like a 9 minute Creator and a couple of other 1/2 hour tracks cut to around 2 minutes.
Might have something to do with me only hitting Honest john's when I'd been up all night after getting hammered at a Cosmic Dead show. Should have made another trip

Did get that Leon Thomas compilation that came out last year though which is really great.


Stevolende, Sunday, 20 July 2014 13:40 (four years ago) Permalink

Really a tough call: Live At The East's evolutionary groove, with the sax thread and two bass hings, was my first, but then several others were equally affecting, each in its own way. Some mentions of Tauhid and Izipho Zam from the Sonny Sharrock--Ask The Ages thread:

Spotify has Ask The Ages, also Pharoah's much earlier Tauhid, where Mr. SS is the beep-beep roadrunner, goading the leader's sunrise-on-the-Nile song into a water buffalo bellow (if the Nile didn't have such critters before, it does now). He's also the team provocateur on the first two tracks of Pharoah's Ipzopho Zam, then, on the 28 minute-and change title track, comes up with what I think of an African-Caribbean riff--rippling, tensile, succinct--which turns out to be his iteration, or maybe invention, of the group theme (gliding and boiling through sunburst saxes, lattices of percussion, bass, keys, Leon Thomas yodeling in tongues, but also in tune, and not too much, honest!). Spotify doesn't have that one, but they have a bunch of others Sharrock played on, incl ones they list, and others here (with a few more in Allmusic, like a couple more Herbie Mann albums)

― dow, Wednesday, 3 July 2013 00:54 (1 year ago) Permalink

He's also the team provocateur on the first two tracks--emphasis on "team" here: mostly discreet, sometimes sneaky--listen on headphones.

― dow, Wednesday, 3 July 2013 01:00 (1 year ago) Permalink

Last Exit's stuff really holds up, especially the live albums—Iron Path, their only studio record, is a little tame. When I interviewed Laswell a year or two ago, I briefly brought up the idea of assembling a Last Exit box, and he said it could definitely be done, and that there were plenty of other unreleased recordings, but that it would be very labor intensive to find and organize the tapes. I think if I ever launched a Kickstarter project, that would be it—a massive Last Exit box with as much unreleased stuff as could be unearthed.

― 誤訳侮辱, Wednesday, 3 July 2013 02:04 (1 year ago) Permalink

Yeah man--still a lot of incredible Sharrock here and there in the Interweb universes---recently heard Pharoah with Sonny and the dual-drummer combo in Japan: robust vocal intro (not Leon-style yodeling)maybe Sonny, who was a singer way before starting over as a guitarist. It's wordless at first then, "My mother's son/My father's son", and onto the guitar (sounds like another guitar behind his solo; Nicky S., perhaps?), sax, bass drums--9 minutes rolling like 3.

― dow, Thursday, 4 July 2013 14:53 (1 year ago) Permalink

dow, Sunday, 20 July 2014 18:48 (four years ago) Permalink

"two-bass *hinge*" that is.

dow, Sunday, 20 July 2014 18:52 (four years ago) Permalink

Live at the East is also one of the great fake live albums; the story is, bringing recording equipment to the actual East (a performance space and African cultural center in Brooklyn) was prohibitively expensive, so they brought an audience into the studio. There's also applause at the end of Black Unity, which always blows my mind—imagine being in the room for that.

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Sunday, 20 July 2014 18:53 (four years ago) Permalink

This could do with being a ballot poll IMO. I'd imagine a lot of top 5 picks won't be that far behind 'favourite'. I know it's extra effort.

Noel Emits, Sunday, 20 July 2014 19:03 (four years ago) Permalink

i hope the results are inconclusive nothing should ever be decided

saer, Sunday, 20 July 2014 19:11 (four years ago) Permalink

I wish there was an intermediate polling type between single choice radio-button polls and ballot polls -- like being able to spread 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices among the poll options. I've mentioned that on the "Ideas for ILX" thread, but stet and Keith didn't comment. I guess it would be possible to code...? I don't think it would even put a big drain on the database, just one calculation when the poll ends. It would be great for occasions that are a little more complex than POO but wouldn't attract enough voters for a ballot poll. xp

WilliamC, Sunday, 20 July 2014 19:14 (four years ago) Permalink

don't know how elevation could be disappointing or dire

chikungunya manatee (Sufjan Grafton), Sunday, 20 July 2014 20:55 (four years ago) Permalink

Disappointing because it's not as good as the string from Karma through Wisdom Through Music.

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Sunday, 20 July 2014 21:10 (four years ago) Permalink

btw I have still never heard Izipho Zam b/c it is expensive, but my ILX mail works if some nice person just happens to have mp3s lying around (it's not on Spotify either(

listened to Jewels Of Thought today, good but not the best

sleeve, Monday, 21 July 2014 00:27 (four years ago) Permalink

Here's some Zam:

dow, Monday, 21 July 2014 00:35 (four years ago) Permalink

not Tubed by me

dow, Monday, 21 July 2014 00:36 (four years ago) Permalink

That's Side 2, the 28" etc title track; you can prob find the rest, hither and yon.

dow, Monday, 21 July 2014 00:38 (four years ago) Permalink

Prince of Peace from that album is always a go to christmastime cut

Dokken played here for a Ribfest and people were total assholes (Sparkle Motion), Monday, 21 July 2014 03:59 (four years ago) Permalink

it's just a perfect album

and some of the best cover art ever too

the late great, Monday, 21 July 2014 04:03 (four years ago) Permalink

I have the Impulse! albums and always find Black Unity to be the best! The two basses taking center stage, on a cushion of dense percussion, really make it... and the studio audience applause at the end really is hilarious. There is a mostly lame book about Impulse! records that has some good Pharaoh stories. I guess after Karma was an unexpectedly hit he ends up with a huge entourage of camp followers and his album sessions were overflowing with people, performing and not.

Side one of Village of the Pharaohs would be my second favorite thing - it is one long wigged out caveman/jazz/psychedelic tune and is built on what has to be one of the most badass bass ostinato figures ever set against a tambura drone. Cecil Mcbee is just unreal and the music just levitates whenever he is in the group. It's a shame the rest of the album is sorta a grab bag of random stuff not really thematically related to the main suite!

All the Impulse! albums have a lot to recommend and each has its own flavor. Tauhid is wonderful, very evocative and primitive in the best possible way. It feels like a reaction to the late Coltrane stuff, Pharaoh going in the opposite direction of his mentor, very restrained and evocative stuff. Deaf, Dumb, Blind is joyous and energetic percussion-overload. Thembi is introspective, mellow and beautiful, a real hidden jewel... and so on!

Never really did a close listen to anything post-Impulse! I have a lot of time for Elevation but the songs seem to be getting shorter and more smoothed out at that point which is less interesting to me than what he'd been doing up until then.

liam fennell, Monday, 21 July 2014 12:29 (four years ago) Permalink

Yeah a top 3/5 poll or something. Just seemed like this could end up looking more conclusive than it really is. But going by the responses perhaps not.

Noel Emits, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:15 (four years ago) Permalink

I'm still torn, Summun Bukmun Umyun is really good and I need to re-listen to Village and Thembi

sleeve, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 13:59 (four years ago) Permalink

Ha, I can't vote for my favorite Pharoah records! Don Cherry's Where is Brooklyn, Coltrane's Live at the Village Vanguard Again! and Sharrock's Ask the Ages...hmmm I'm not sure what my fave leader record of his is...maybe Tauhid?

chr1sb3singer, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 14:11 (four years ago) Permalink


the late great, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 18:40 (four years ago) Permalink

tauhid v thembi for me.

though to be 100% honest i think 'journey to satchidinanda' is the best work pharoah ever did. possibly his most lyrical playing

marcos, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 18:42 (four years ago) Permalink

not a huge fan of izipho zam, think i ended up selling my copy? not sure. i can't really dig the yodelling

marcos, Wednesday, 23 July 2014 18:43 (four years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Friday, 25 July 2014 00:01 (four years ago) Permalink

Balance on Izipho Zam is astonishing IIRC. I don't have copy so I'm not all that familiar with the rest.

Noel Emits, Friday, 25 July 2014 09:40 (four years ago) Permalink

The thread-relevant material is at 12 minutes (smooth jazz era Pharaoh with a smooth jazz all-star band playing Thembi and sounding gorgeous) but watch the whole video because it's amazing This show used to be onAmerican network television. I was late for class every Monday morning because I went to school on it every Sunday night.

Three Word Username, Friday, 25 July 2014 19:40 (four years ago) Permalink

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:01 (four years ago) Permalink

IMO more like a #5 or #6

would rate all these higher

izipho zam
deaf dumb blind (summun bukmun umyun)
journey to the one

the late great, Saturday, 26 July 2014 04:02 (four years ago) Permalink

I'm just happy Journey to the One didn't get shut-out of the love

bernard snowy, Saturday, 26 July 2014 11:23 (four years ago) Permalink

Really, anyone who gets upset over the results of a Pharoah Sanders poll has missed the point of living

bernard snowy, Saturday, 26 July 2014 11:24 (four years ago) Permalink

eh who's upset

the late great, Saturday, 26 July 2014 17:26 (four years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

tauhid is so good!

3kDk (dog latin), Thursday, 14 August 2014 23:55 (four years ago) Permalink

sonny sharrock is next level on tauhid

the late great, Friday, 15 August 2014 00:35 (four years ago) Permalink

sharrock's contribution to tauhid always sounds very velvet underground-y to me, not that i'm suggesting any direct 'influence' either way, more like there was something in the air

sʌxihɔːl (Ward Fowler), Friday, 15 August 2014 08:16 (four years ago) Permalink

One of those gems drizzled among lesser albums, I am in love with this song right now. The way the harmony horns emerge to complete and resolve the main melodic phrase just KILLS me every time. Chills for real.

andrew m., Friday, 15 August 2014 14:48 (four years ago) Permalink

love this tune

Dokken played here for a Ribfest and people were total assholes (Sparkle Motion), Friday, 15 August 2014 16:15 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh, happens that our local weekly, Arkansas Times, in last week's issue, ran a nice article on his early life around here. He may be called Little Rock, but he grew up in NORTH Little Rock, about 3 miles from where I type. As a fellow North Little Rocker, makes me wonder if he ever corrected them when he got to California. "That's North Little Rock." "Whatever, Little Rock!"

andrew m., Sunday, 17 August 2014 15:53 (four years ago) Permalink

This month's Wire has an in depth primer on Sanders

Scary Darey (dog latin), Thursday, 21 August 2014 23:21 (four years ago) Permalink

I'll have to read that.

I love everything I've heard of Sanders, which amounts to all his records with Coltrane, "Preview" on The Jazz Composers Orchestra, and Ask the Ages. But I've never heard any of his solo records.

Recommendations on where to start?

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Thursday, 21 August 2014 23:45 (four years ago) Permalink

any of the first six at the top of the poll, really

sleeve, Thursday, 21 August 2014 23:46 (four years ago) Permalink


the late great, Friday, 22 August 2014 01:09 (four years ago) Permalink

This month's Wire has an in depth primer on Sanders

By me! Thanks for reading!

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Friday, 22 August 2014 01:43 (four years ago) Permalink

And Burns, yeah, the top seven albums in the poll are all great, and so is Live at the East.

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Friday, 22 August 2014 01:44 (four years ago) Permalink

Cool, thanks. I shall begin with Karma.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 22 August 2014 02:17 (four years ago) Permalink

Omg you are gonna flip!!!

cross over the mushroom circle (La Lechera), Friday, 22 August 2014 03:46 (four years ago) Permalink

Ah, horse, didn't realise this was by you. Seriously smashing stuff.

Scary Darey (dog latin), Friday, 22 August 2014 09:39 (four years ago) Permalink

Karma is an excellent introduction. I raided my grandparents' (RIP) record collection while clearing out their flat in Paris earlier in the year. Huge jazz fans, and I managed to salvage copies of Tauhid and Jewels of Thought. I'd say Tauhid is fast becoming a favourite. Something so exuberant about Sanders' compositions; a joy and wonder I feel over and above a large majority of jazz players. Jewels of Thought is much more abstruse but not without its interesting parts.

Scary Darey (dog latin), Friday, 22 August 2014 09:43 (four years ago) Permalink

last night's Global Village (good stream from Wichita) started off with title track from Brown Rice. perfectiy followed by some from last year's Beyond The Ragasphere. I got to thinking again about Cherry, Condona, Shakti, and Live At The East. looking for more like the last, came across this, by Allmusic's Thom Jurek:

The aesthetic and cultural merits of Eddie Gale's Ghetto Music cannot be of the most obscure recordings in Blue Note's catalog -- paid for out of label co-founder Francis Wolff's own pocket...seamlessly blends the new jazz of the '60s -- Gale was a member of the Sun Ra Arkestra before and after these sides, and played on Cecil Taylor's Blue Note debut, Unit Structures -- with gospel, soul, and the blues. Gale's sextet included two bass players and two drummers -- in 1968 -- as well as a chorus of 11 voices, male and female...Soloists come and go, but modes, melodies, and harmonies remain firmly intact. The beautiful strains of African folk music and Latin jazz sounds in "Fulton Street," for example, create a veritable chromatic rainbow. "A Walk with Thee" is a spiritual written to a march tempo with drummers playing counterpoint to one another and the front line creating elongated melodic lines via an Eastern harmonic sensibility. Does it swing? Hell yeah! The final cut, "The Coming of Gwilu," moves from the tribal to the urban and everywhere in between using Jamaican thumb pianos, soaring vocals à la the Arkestra, polyrhythmic invention, and good, old-fashioned groove jazz, making something entirely new in the process...succeeds because it concentrates on creating a space for the myriad voices of an emerging African-American cultural force to be heard in a single architecture. This is militant music posessed by soul and spirit. All that??? Hope so!

dow, Saturday, 23 August 2014 17:35 (four years ago) Permalink

Yeah that's a great album, especially love the song "The Rain" that starts like Linda Perhacs before heading into a Ra-like chant with horns blazing away

( X '____' )/ (zappi), Saturday, 23 August 2014 18:02 (four years ago) Permalink

I'd say if you're looking for a starting point the 2cd Anthology: You've got To Have Freedom is a great place to start since it covers most of his best material in edited form.
If you enjoy that you can go out and buy the individual lps. You'll probably want to hear the full length versions. But the shorter edits which are 9 minutes to about 15 is good starting point.

That Wire Primer does look like it'll help you get a grounding too.

Stevolende, Saturday, 23 August 2014 22:17 (four years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, just saw the new Jazzwise on the racks of the local chain newsagent yesterday and that's talking about a new John Coltrane Quintet release that's just come out. Sounds like it should be worth investigating. There's a several page article and a review in that magazine

Stevolende, Saturday, 23 August 2014 22:20 (four years ago) Permalink

Do you mean Offering?

I have the grey-market release of (part of) this show, and it's tremendous, easily on par with Live in Japan (and maybe better).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Saturday, 23 August 2014 22:23 (four years ago) Permalink

Yeah, Offering is really great. I'm particularly amazed by the sound quality they were able to achieve, considering they were working off a two-track tape recorded with a single mic positioned center stage. Granted, Coltrane drowns everybody out when he's soloing, but you get to hear way more of the band than I expected to be able to hear. It's definitely worth picking up if you're a late-Coltrane obsessive. Shouldn't be anybody's first (or even fifteenth) purchase, though.

Humorist (horse) (誤訳侮辱), Saturday, 23 August 2014 22:33 (four years ago) Permalink

Yeah that's the one.

Stevolende, Saturday, 23 August 2014 23:35 (four years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

just got Elevation used from the local store. oh my god side 2.

$80 is absurd and very ridiculous! (Sufjan Grafton), Sunday, 14 December 2014 01:30 (three years ago) Permalink

feels like a new experience outside of spotify+earbuds

$80 is absurd and very ridiculous! (Sufjan Grafton), Sunday, 14 December 2014 01:34 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

looks like Izipho Zam is getting reissued on LP via the Everland Jazz label

sleeve, Friday, 23 June 2017 22:18 (one year ago) Permalink


Max-Headroom-drops-a-deuce-while-shredding (Sparkle Motion), Saturday, 24 June 2017 04:41 (one year ago) Permalink

five months pass...

can anyone comment on the sound quality of the new reissues (tauhid / jewels of thought / summun bukmun umyun)?

i heard they were bad :-(

the late great, Monday, 4 December 2017 19:14 (ten months ago) Permalink

They're not bad.

bamcquern, Monday, 4 December 2017 22:02 (ten months ago) Permalink

four months pass...

i don't know, tauhid sounded okay but the sax on the title track from summun bukmun umyun seems a little ... strangled

i'm going to A/B it with a CD but i'm not sure that's a fair comparison

the late great, Monday, 9 April 2018 18:25 (six months ago) Permalink

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