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Shining gem in a great discography
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 03/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tyner recorded prolifically for Milestone throughout the 1970s, and produced a number of fine recordings. "Sahara" might be the best. It represents the state of the art for the time of its release, 1972.The greatest strength of this recording lies in its varied aural landscape. If you want Tyner's signature thunderous chords and lightning right-hand runs, cue up "Ebony Queen" and "Rebirth." Need some spiritually rich solo piano? Move to "A Prayer for My Family." Then try the 23-minute title track, which has his reedman, Sonny Fortune, playing flute, his bassist, Calvin Hill, playing reeds, and the group joining drummer Alphonse Mouzon with various percussion effects. As far from a blowing session as you can get, this extended performance is a well-planned trip across a variety of endlessly fascinating terrains.As if all this isn't enough, on "Valley of Life," Tyner picks up a kyoto, a Japanese stringed instrument and produces a delicate impressionistic sketch, aided by Fortune, again on flute."Sahara" represents the best that jazz had to offer in the early '70s. The musicians aren't afraid to display their chops (Fortune adds blazing soprano and alto sax to his delicate work on flute), but Tyner clearly is intent on finding new territory and expanding the definition of jazz, and he succeeds brilliantly."
G B | Connecticut | 01/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sahara is the first of Tyner's great Milestone albums. People who are familiar only with his 60s work with Coltrane and others may be surprised -- though rooted in modality, his playing here is dense, chromatic and HUGE. "Rebirth" approaches some 60s energy music in terms of intensity. Sonny Fortune's saxophone playing is quite heated on "Rebirth" and "Ebony Queen", while Tyner's piano has the presence of an orchestra. But there is also time for reflective playing, as on the piano solo feature "A Prayer for My Family" and the dreamy "Valley of Life" (McCoy plays a koto here). The closing title suite really holds together and covers a lot of ground, just like its namesake. If you like this, get the live Enlightenment (also on Milestone); both are exceptional, innovative (!), and acoustic post-bop. (Sadly, Ken Burns hasn't heard them.)"
The piano man
Case Quarter | CT USA | 05/05/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"the ideas of sahara are an extension of mccoy tyner's work with john coltrane. a prayer for my family is tyner soloing on piano. on all tracks tyner's playing is energetic and masterful, making sahara an excellent recording.
a minor complaint: too many whistles and sirens, distracting while listening to alphonse mouzon's brilliant solos, especially on the title track."