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Pharoah Sanders: Live

With the flowers of late-period Trane in full bloom, Coltrane sideman and then-sonic behemoth Pharoah Sanders cut a string of well-known albums for Impulse-before getting cut by the fading label, that is. More than a few years went by before the indie label Theresa picked up a wandering and surprisingly mellower Sanders, who had just resurfaced after a single, ill-fated pop-jazz recording for Arista. Theresa, run by research chemist and amateur jazzman Allan Pittman, provided Sanders with the opportunity to start another string of recordings, one of which includes Live (Evidence). This album, originally released in ’82, catches Sanders’ able quartet-pianist John Hicks, bassist Walter Booker and drummer Idris Muhammad-on tour the previous year and highly caffeineated. Most of the tunes are so jacked-up that they sound like they could only be set-closers; one lone ballad tries to offset the manic tempos.

A single, previously unreleased track named for Pittman, “Doktor Pitt,” adds 22 minutes to the original LP’s playing time, and it exemplifies the best and worst of this recording. Sanders thrives here in his favorite setting, the two-chord vamp, which he milks for an insanely long time, building and breaking down the intensity levels over and over, shouting through the horn when he can’t quite squeal loud enough. Audacious? Repetitious? Yes and yes, but full of guts and unrepentantly balls-out.

Originally Published