Spiral Mercury Chicago / São Paulo Underground

Pharoah & the Underground

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This exceptional live document finds legendary free jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders collaborating with cornetist Rob Mazurek and members of the Sao Paulo Underground and Chicago Underground Duo. Mazurek takes a leading role for the most part, joined by Sanders in his regular volcanic, spiritual state of playing and supported dutifully by percussionist Maurício Takara, drummer Chad Taylor, bassist Matt Lux, and multi-instrumentalist Guilherme Granado. The disc tends toward the more experimental and tumultuous side of things, with processed synth sounds clashing with the explosive organic instrumentation in a way that brings to mind Sun Ra's rudimentary synth experimentation on his early-'70s Saturn Records output. Over the course of the more than an hour-long set, the group explores moody bass grooves, glitchy electronic tinkering that occasionally borders on noise, and a kind of high-energy free expression close in spirit to the kind Sanders pioneered in the mid-'60s with Coltrane, Ayler, Shepp, and other free music royalty.

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