The Jazzcat

Pharoah Sanders at Catalina’s Bar and Grill

by on Aug.20, 2007, under News

Slide Show

Drum roll please. Babatunde Lea lays down a red carpet of

beats as the great Pharoah approaches the stage. Two of LA’s finest also join

in to contribute to the loveliness that is about to take place, pianist William

Henderson, known to some as Kaman and bass player Tony Dumas. These cats round

out the rhythm section perfectly as they begin to break the stage in for the

second set.


William Henderson lays down a bed of roses and from the

darkness appears a figure, holding his horn and shaking the bells. The rhythm

is a melodic mantra and the horn is the poet. His sound on tenor is rich and

operating in a register that speaks his name. Pharoah Sanders paints the

landscape of “Lawrence of Arabia”, coming back from the desert unscathed and

blessing the nonbelievers with a musical language that heals the souls.


Dark shades, white hair and a horn that screams ecstasy, a

description that belongs to no other. He listens as the members is his rhythm

speak to him. Out of nowhere a wind rises. Two gigantic tambourines create the

impression of the eye of the storm. The elements of a world entrenched in

turmoil, yet this music is the spirit, the power, that protects us and with

faith, we know that everything is going to be all right.


Tony Dumas sounds so wonderful tonight. He has space and is

freedom of his solo is expressed in an Arabian mysticism that is quite

captivating. I have seen him in many different settings and the richness of

this environment is perfect for him. They play John Coltrane’s “India” and

Pharoah creates some sounds that I have never heard before. If this were a

clearing in the meadow, in the forest, in the night, a thousand pairs of eyes

would be glowing upon us from the distance. The music travels like a rapid

flowing river that everyone is pleasantly swept away by.


There are those who have an original sound and there are the

rest. Affiliations do wonderful things. Forever are we touched by the things

and the emotions that we experience in life and in music, this concept is a

welcome organism that mutates between the lives of musicians and contributes to

the creative combustion that happens when the music freely takes flight and

metamorphically changes into new directions.



Pharoah’s ballads are sweet and a tender rhythm only

enhances the charm. Have you ever seen Babatunde work the drums and the bongos

at the same time? A polyrhythmic master! This cat is just recovering from

shoulder and knee surgery but, you wouldn’t know it as he doesn’t miss a beat.

Pharoah takes the Trane home with “Giant Steps” and encores with the

historical, magical Mantra, “A Love Supreme, A Love Supreme, A Love Supreme”.

Much music, much love, much respect!


LeRoy Downs

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