Pharoah Sanders

Anthology: You've Got to Have Freedom

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Anthology: You've Got to Have Freedom is exactly what it says but is also more. This two-disc set is culled from Pharoah Sanders' Impulse! catalog; it is these recordings that gave him his place in jazz history -- apart from the years he spent with John Coltrane. Sanders was unfairly pegged with carrying on the Coltrane legacy in free jazz; he was often called "the new Coltrane." This set confirms and underscores Sanders' reputation for being a truly restless and creative force in jazz. What makes this anthology so utterly special is that it is the first one of its kind to cross-license tracks from a number of labels. All of disc one and the first three tracks on disc two come from his Impulse! years from 1966-1974. Included here are some edited versions of longer tracks like "The Creator Has a Master Plan," "Black Unity," "Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt," "Summun Bukmun Umyun," and "Village of the Pharoahs." The way these cuts were edited is artful, too -- the second half of "Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt," for instance, right before Sanders' solo, is included here. Disc two contains an edit of "The Gathering," but includes the full versions of "Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah," "Love Is Everywhere," and "Rejoice." There is a story being told here, about a musician who cannot and will not be categorized easily. Sanders could play it all and brought in so many different kinds of musicians to help him realize his vision. If he relied heavily on folk music traditions from Africa on one recording, such as on Jewels of Thought, he would use a group of soul-jazz players on another such as the Love Will Find a Way album. Relentless experimentation and research into sound itself were Sanders' only m.o. The tracks here like "Greeting to Saud (Brother McCoy Tyner)," with five percussionists, tamboura, violin (courtesy of Michael White) and vocals are startling in their freshness over 30 years later. Or "Black Unity," with a three-horn front line -- Sanders and Carlos Garnett on saxophones and Hannibal Peterson on trumpet -- lays out a series of angular phrases that are answered modally and melodically by Joe Bonner's piano and a pair of bassists holding down a strong rhythmic line (Cecil McBee and Stanley Clarke) as well as a pair of drummers playing a nearly hypnotic chant rhythm (Billy Hart and Norman Connors). The journey here is profound and startling at almost every turn. It finally ends with "Nozipho," from the 1996 album Message from Home (produced by Bill Laswell), with everything from electronic keyboards to kora and dousongoni -- and once again, Michael White on violin. Given that listeners have no Pharoah Sanders box set -- and Impulse! should get it together and release one -- this collection is as good as it gets. Some will have trouble with the edits and that's to be expected; others would have chosen some different tracks and that is as well. But when all is said and done, this offers a multidimensional portrait of a musician who has never gotten his proper due.

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