Mon. Nov. 29, 2021

Pharoah Sanders – You’ve Got To Have Freedom

Classics: Pharoah Sanders – You’ve Got To Have Freedom – (Theresa Records)

Probably the most popular cut (along with ‘The Creator Has A Masterplan’) by the likes of vet Free Jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders. In the footsteps of the late John Coltrane whom he’d worked with in the mid-60’s.

Speaking of him, alter ego Albert Ayler said… “Trane was the Father, Pharoah was the Son, I am the Holy Ghost.”. Meanwhile Ornette Coleman described him as “probably the best tenor player in the world.” And more recently we’ve had All Music Steve Loewy probably trying to get the attention. This while assuming on his review of Sanders‘s ‘Africa’ album that “Most will probably prefer the original Coltrane to Sanders’ imitations…” An assumption speakin’ of which I prefer lettin’ you make your own idea!

Taken from his 1980 ‘Journey To The One’ album… This studio version of ‘You’ve Got To Have Freedom’ sees him sharing the duties with luminaries such as Eddie Henderson (Flugelhorn). But also Idris Muhammad (drums) and the flamboyant John Hicks on piano.

Most likely one of my favorite pieces of Jazz. This with Miles Davis‘So What’ and Vi Redd & Count Basie‘s version of ‘Stormy Monday Blues’. Not to mention Freddie Hubbard‘s ‘Little Sunflower’. Or Jean-Luc Ponty‘s ‘Computer Incantations For World Peace’

Sampled quite a bunch of times… Beginning with NYC-based DJ/producer DJ Smash on ‘Blown Away’. From the 1991 released ‘Jazzy Grooves vol. 1’ EP on Eightball Records… ‘You’ve Got To Have Freedom’ would be given a cover version some 18 years later. Not only by Parisian DJ Cam on his ‘Diggin’ album. But also by Lyon-based Bruno ‘Patchworks’ Hovart under the Uptown Funk Empire guise. More of a groovy Funk based version though. This with vocal parts courtesy of Ange Fandoh and Janice Leca. From his 2009 ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ album…

What’s the value of your vinyl record?

NB: for those of you into the 12″ format, Dutch label Dopeness Galore has had the cool idea to release it as back in 2007.

A native of Little Rock, AK, Farrell Sanders started performing while accompanying church hymns on clarinet. And, although he was more into the visual arts for some time, he progressively immersed himself into music. And, more precisely, developed his technique with the tenor saxophone.
He shortly relocated to Oakland, CA by the beginning of the 60’s. Eventually befriending John Coltrane with whom he would come to prominence 5 years later. Movin’ to the Big Apple in 1961, he would find a place to live at Sun Ra‘s with the latter welcomin’ him in his band for some time.

Sanders and Coltrane pretty much influenced each other as a matter of fact. The twosome jammin’ together on Coltrane’s ‘Ascension’ and ‘Meditations’ albums in 1965. 1969 seeing Sanders makin’ a date with History. This with the release of his ‘Karma’ album. An effort most often remembered for one track. In other words, the 32-minute-long ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’, which Sanders composed along with vocalist Leon Thomas. Featuring Lonnie-Liston Smith on piano, it got further development via its cover version by the likes of Brooklyn Funk Essentials some 25 years after.

Almost continuously reinventing himself and going from a label to another made it hard for Sanders to build a strong and continuous following. This probably explaining why not that many tracks come to mind when thinkin’ of him. And this, despite quite an impressive discography on his own as as a sideman. But I guess we certainly couldn’t pass neither on the one of a kind ‘You’ve Got To Have Freedom’. A cut which, most definitely, embodies what Jazz and its actors are about. But also brilliantly illustrates the connection between Sanders and John Hicks on piano. Not to mention Eddie Henderson on Flugelhorn and Idris Muhammad on drums.

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