Gary Giddins
July 06, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Africa

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Art Wolfe
genre
Coffee Table, Nonfiction

We gave it an A-

A serious and unassuming virtuoso saxophonist, Pharaoah Sanders scared the pants off jazz lovers in 1965, when he worked with Coltrane and expanded on the extremes of the great man’s style. He created whole solos with the croaked chords and banshee wails that Coltrane (at first) used for spice. By 1970, he was lending his burnished timbre to chant-like pieces with spiritual themes; later records were intermittently successful. Africa is a cogent if stoic return to form for Sanders and his fiery quartet, which includes the extensively featured pianist John Hicks. Sanders is now using split-tones, rapid tonguing, and other devices (”Origin” is a glossary of them) to flavor his solos. His caustic tone remains happily sui generis, especially on ”Duo,” a rampage with drummer Idris Muhammed.

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