REVIEW: Pharoah Sanders @ PDX Jazz Fest (Portland, OR – 2/28/10)
So, Pharoah Sanders is a legend. He’s played with jazz great John Coltrane, and his tenor sax work has eclipsed those around him. Free-jazzmaster Ornette Coleman referred to Pharoah as ”probably the best tenor player in the world.” He has a large swath of albums over the past 5 decades. Passing up an afternoon concert at this year’s Portland Jazz Fest wasn’t an option. :)
I was just at the Newmark Theatre the night prior for the smokin’ Dave Holland Quintet show. My seat for Pharoah was is almost the exact same spot (L12 versus L11). I got a good spot right in the middle to check out Pharoah’s band: William Henderson on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums. After a short introduction, the band hit the stage – Pharoah in a bright purple shirt…
The feel of the show was all over the place. When Pharoah first started, it was quite remarkable. He doesn’t play in straight lines, but your mind tends to connect those lines right as his sax is connecting them for you. He seemed very much like a songbird who was free to sing what he wanted – but still very melodic. He was very much like a bridge between John Coltrane and the more free-jazz Ornette Coleman.
They started off the show with a 25+ minute “My Favorite Things.” Most of the rest of the 2+ hour show was the power trio of piano/bass/drums playing with Pharoah walking on and off stage and jumping in where he saw fit. His long disappearances were interesting, but a 70 year old jazz legend can do whatever he wants. :) On three of the songs, Portland (now New Orleans) saxophonist Devon Phillips came up and joined the band.
They played 6 or 7 tunes, and ended the show with an encore of “Save Our Children,” sung by Pharoah. 2 hours in total… utterly brilliant work from this master and his great band.
For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:
The Appropriate Linkage:
- Pharoah Sanders’ Site
- Pharoah Sanders on MySpace
- PDX Jazz Fest
- PCPA – Newmark Theatre
- Oregon Music News‘s Review of the Show