A Playlist Celebrating Pharaoh Sanders’ 80th Birthday

Source: 48 hills.

It wasn’t until he started playing with his old friend John Coltrane that he would fully establish that ‘sheets of sound’ fury via his saxophone on the world of free jazz. The records Pharoah Sanders played on for Coltrane laid the foundation of what was to come for both the world of free jazz and energy music. After Coltrane’s tragic death Sanders would record further with Alice Coltrane, John’s widow, in the creation of a gentler and more structured aesthetic which became known as cosmic, spiritual, or astral jazz. During the last 30 years, Sanders has also woven elements of retro rhythm and blues, swing, and bop into his music—similar to his contemporary Archie Shepp, another leading nonconformist of the mid-1960s, has done. Astral jazz, for the most part, has become his calling card.

In celebration of this American Master and his 56-year cannon, we’ve provided entry points to Sanders’s vast genre-bending career. These are moments throughout an enigmatic orbit that moves the spirit.