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Pharoah Sanders: Jewels of Thought

Pharoah Sanders with bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth, Dizzy’s, NYC, 9-12

It’s a spring afternoon in a comfortable section of South Central Los Angeles. The richly textured tone of a tenor saxophone wafts across the lawn of a two-story house, blending with the dull hum of I-10 not far off. The moment suggests a number of things: a career that balances music-making and homemaking, and one that’s active, generating a healthy income.

Both home and tone belong to Pharoah Sanders, the latter being perhaps one of the most valuable and recognizable sounds to survive the ’60s avant-garde. I hear it, a bit disarming in its domestic setting, as I cross the lawn to speak with the man whose fearsome reputation endures as one who breathes fire and rasp.

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Originally Published

Ashley Kahn

Ashley Kahn is a Grammy-winning American music historian, journalist, producer, and professor. He teaches at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute for Recorded Music, and has written books on two legendary recordings—Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane—as well as one book on a legendary record label: The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records. He also co-authored the Carlos Santana autobiography The Universal Tone, and edited Rolling Stone: The Seventies, a 70-essay overview of that pivotal decade.