Two iconic jazz saxophone players share October 13th as their birthdays. one, alto sax player Lee Konitz, is considered one of the main figures in the cool jazz movement, although Konitz has also performed successfully in bebop and avant-garde settings throughout his career. The other, tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders is an important figure in the development of free jazz.
The presence of Konitz and other white musicians in the group angered some black jazz players, many of whom were unemployed at the time, but Davis rebuffed their criticisms. Konitz has stated that he considered the group to belong to Gerry Mulligan, and credits Lennie Tristano as the true forebearer of “the cool”
Konitz over his career recorded more than 100 albums as a leader and dozens more as a sideman with the likes of: Lennie Tristano, Stan Kenton,Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan and others. I listened to a little of Konitz’s album Trouble in Mind released in June 2014 on Jump. I have never listened to much of Konitz’ music, but from what I heard tonight, he certainly seems to have a distinctive sound.
Speaking of distinctive sounds. From Wikipedia about Pharoah Sanders…
Saxophonist Ornette Coleman once described him (Sanders) as “probably the best tenor player in the world.” Eme rging from John Coltrane‘s groups of the mid-1960s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on the saxophone, as well as his use of “sheets of sound
Albert Ayler famously said: “Trane was the Father, Pharoah was the Son, I am the Holy Ghost
Sanders came to greater prominence playing with John Coltrane’s band, starting in 1965, as Coltrane began adopting the avant-garde jazz of Albert Ayler, Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor. Sanders first performed with Coltrane on Ascension (recorded in June 1965), then on their dual-tenor recording Meditations (recorded in November 1965). After this Sanders joined Coltrane’s final quintet, usually performing very lengthy, dissonant solos. Coltrane’s later style was strongly influenced by Sanders. Amiri Baraka lays claim to naming him Pharaoh in an early sixties Down Beat review upon hearing him introduce himself as Farrell Sanders and thinking he said “Pharaoh Sanders”.
Although Sanders’ voice developed differently from Coltrane, Sanders was strongly influenced by their collaboration. Spiritual elements such as the chanting in Om would later show up in many of Sanders’ own works. Sanders would also go on to produce much free jazz, modified from Coltrane’s solo-centric conception. In 1968 he participated in Michael Mantler and Carla Bley’s Jazz Composer’s Orchestra Association album The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, featuring Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Larry Coryell and Gato Barbieri.
In the 1970s, Sanders pursued his own recordings and continued to work with the likes of Alice Coltrane on her Journey In Satchidananda album. Most of Sanders’ best-selling work was made in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse Records, including the 30-minute wave-on-wave of free jazz “The Creator has a Master Plan” from the album Karma. This composition featured vocalist Leon Thomas’s unique, “umbo weti” yodeling, and Sanders’ key musical partner, pianist Lonnie Liston Smith, who worked with Sanders from 1969-1971. Other members of his groups in this period include bassist Cecil McBee, on albums such as Jewels of Thought, Izipho Zam, Deaf Dumb Blind and Thembi
Over his career Sanders has recorded 34 albums as a leader, 9 with John Coltrane, 3 with Alice Coltrane and 2 with both McCoy Tyner and Don Cherry. He recorded another 13 with various artists. I listened to parts of Message from Home this afternoon and I have the album Karma playing now, overall I think Pharoah’s music needs to be explored in a little more depth!
So Happy 87th Birthday Mr Konitz and 74th Birthday Mr Sanders and thank you both for the music and your contributions to the genre of jazz!! And how about we listen to age before eccentricity and listen to “Melancholy Baby” from Bill Evans and Lee Konitz!!