At Baker's Keyboard Lounge
Pharoah Sanders stands out as one of the hardest-blowing, most powerful and at the same time lyrical tenor saxophone players in modern jazz. He can alternate easily between deep, fascinating, polyrhythmic waves of melody and some of the most intense, turn-your-head-inside-out playing available to the jazz lover today.
Pharoah introduced his young new quartet to Detroit last week at Baker 's Keyboard Lounge, and a splendid time was had by all. Pharoah seemed to be in exceptionally high spirits, playing harder and with more relish than we've heard in some time, and his new band cooked right along with him. Steve Neil was particularly commanding on bass, especially during his extended solos; Cedric Lawson functioned well in a largely supportive role on piano; and ldris Mohammed kept the percussion rolling rapid-fire, revealing a welcome respect for the work of Elvin Jones.
But Pharoah stole the show. One of his solos in particular evidenced a new style for him, a very ethereal kind of playing which uses the technique of not quite letting the full sound out in the notes, but in the breath instead.
He handled the horn with assurance and intelligence throughout the performance, building to happy, intense climaxes and generally driving the band to heights of collective passion. One was reminded from tome to time of the mighty Coltrane Quartet, especially its energy and grace, for Pharoah seems once again to be living and working at full strength. And that's good news any way you cut it.
Hooray must be heard once again for Clarence Baker, for treating Detroit's ears to some of the finest jazz in the world today. In this day of commercial jazz deluge, it's a treat to get a full load of the real, unadulterated emotional thing.